What we get for community development reflects what effort we, the public, make to get involved.
For about a year now, Halifax Regional Municipality and the Waterfront Development Corporation have been reaching out to the public as part of the planning process for the future re-development of Birch Cove, known to most of us as the area around the Chinatown restaurant. It includes the properties bounded by Chinatown, Irving, St. Peter's Church and Wedgewood Motel on the Bedford Highway.
Public consultation to date has included a public workshop, a public meeting and an online survey. HRM also formed a steering committee, supported by councillor Debbie Hum and made up of residents, property owners and developers. Its role is to provide guidance to consultants in evaluating alternative designs, and to ensure that property owners and interested parties have adequate opportunities to participate and express opinions.
I am a resident of the Birch Cove area, and was asked by fellow members of the planning study steering committee to be its chair. I am writing this letter to bring to public attention a significant milestone in the master plan process.
On March 22, there will be a public meeting at St. Peter's Anglican Church, Dakin Drive, to present the draft Birch Cove Waterfront Area Master Plan. I emphasize the plan is a draft---it has been developed by the consultants and committee and with public input from the workshop and earlier public meeting, and extensive public feedback from the Bedford Basin-Western Shore Land Use Study, approved by regional council. It is now time for greater public review. The steering committee has met frequently to ensure public concerns are considered carefully in the development of the plan. I give credit to my fellow members---there have been a variety of opinions but all have been discussed fully and respectfully (I recommend involvement in a HRM committee to anyone).
However, if the plan is truly to reflect our community's vision, we need to hear from you. The committee hopes that the word has got out widely, and that there will be a good turnout at this meeting.
Involvement in community development is a little like voting: it's a part of democracy, except in the end we don't have politicians to blame. March 22 is an opportunity for your opinion to be heard on the future of Birch Cove. —Colin Darlington, Chair, Birch Cove Waterfront Plan Steering Committee