Purcell's Cove area residents seek closure in Council decision on sewer-water feasibility study

Oct. 29, 2013: Residents of the Purcell's Cove area are hopeful two years of ongoing stress will come to a close this afternoon. Halifax Regional Council is scheduled to make a final decision on the municipality's controversial study into the feasibility of extending sewer and water services to the area. The Council meeting starts at 1:00 pm at City Hall, and a small contingent of residents will attend to witness any discussion on this issue. The agenda and supporting documents are available online at http://www.halifax.ca/council/agendasc/cagenda.html.

With growing support from a number of other groups concerned about the fate of the Purcell's Cove and Williams Lake Backlands, residents are calling on Regional Council to table the study's final report from the CBCL consultants. On October 7, the Halifax and West Community Council voted to advance the issue to Regional Council, with a recommendation to table the report. "Our councillors have reassured us that by tabling the report, this process is now coming to an end," says Catherine McKinnon of the Purcell's Cove Area 1 Residents' Action Committee."By tabling the report, our understanding is that Council would finally be giving our community closure to this longstanding and disturbing issue."

At the conclusion of their study, the CBCL consultants recommended further study into two 'preferred options' for servicing, in order to accommodate future developments including Clayton Developments' plans to build more than 1,200 new homes around Williams Lake.

Along with their numerous environmental and traffic congestion concerns, residents felt the report grossly understated the costs to existing households, due to flawed data in the study. CBCL's cost estimates ranged from $17,500 to $73,000 per property (not including the lateral hookups), depending on the servicing option and cost-sharing arrangement with developers. After their own financial analysis with highly qualified accounting experts, residents found that central services could cost up to $130,000 per household. Development in the area also directly contravenes the Regional Plan, and HRM currently has a greater than 40-year supply of serviceable suburban lots.

Clayton's next steps for its land holdings are uncertain. Residents respectfully suggest Clayton and its parent company, The Shaw Group consider gifting the wilderness lands abutting Williams Lake to the residents of Halifax and Nova Scotia, for the ongoing enjoyment of current and future generations. While the feasibility study has been incredibly stressful for the majority of area residents, it had one positive outcome: community consensus on the issue of protecting a very special piece of urban wilderness and securing its place in a future HRM greenbelt.

"Throughout this public consultation process, citizens across HRM have expressed their overwhelming desire to preserve the Backlands of Purcell's Cove and Williams Lake, so that there will be no loss of habitat in this critical watershed area," says McKinnon.

For further information or interviews, please contact:
Catherine McKinnon
Purcell's Cove Area 1 Residents' Action Committee
Tel. (902) 456-1654

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