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Tues Sep 24 2019 at 6PM at Halifax City Hall: Important Public Hearing on Green Network Plan – re Wildlife Corridors

UPDATE Wed Sep 25, 2019: The Amendment “to the Regional Plan’s conservation design development agreement policies to specifically reference the Important and Essential Corridors shown on Map 5)”  received unanimous approval at yesterdays meeting of Halifax Regional Council.

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Map 5 in the Halifax Green Network Plan
Click on image for larger version and legend

Halifax (HRM) is blessed with phenomenal natural assets. In June of 2018, Regional Council tabled the Final Draft of the The Halifax Green Network Plan  which “provides land management and community design direction to:
– maintain ecologically and culturally important land and aquatic systems;
– promote the sustainable use of natural resources and economically important open spaces; and
– identify, define and plan land suited for parks and corridors”

The Essential and Important Corridors shown in Map 5 above allow movement genetic exchange of plants and animals, large and small, between otherwise isolated patches of natural habitat within HRM and across the boundaries of HRM. Without those corridors, biodiversity and ecosystems services provided by our natural spaces will inevitably decline – such habitat fragmentation and isolation is a major driver of the massive species losses currently in progress globally and locally.

Legislative followup to the HGNP is required to actually protect those corridors and  is urgent as some development has already occurred or been approved within those corridors,

“Consequently, to avoid potential conflicts in the near term, staff recommend a narrowly focused amendment to the Regional Plan’s conservation design development agreement policies to specifically reference the Important and Essential Corridors shown on Map 5, Green Network Ecology Map, contained in the HGNP. This will provide a clearer, more up-to-date basis for municipal staff and developers to consider such corridors as part of the conservation design development agreement process.”

HRM is only considering this change – it hasn’t happened yet. We need your help to ensure that they amend the Regional Plan to require all conservation design (rural residential development) to plan based on the ecological findings of the Green Network Plan.

What you can do: attend the hearing or write in advance (by 3 pm Monday, Sep 23 see below for venues) to support the amendment, asking HRM to not allow development to compromise connectivity or the ecological network in any way.

Even a few words to your  Councillor and Mayor Savage will help e.g., to  say you are strongly in support of an amendment to the Regional Plan’s conservation design development agreement policies to specifically reference the Important and Essential Corridors shown on Map 5 .

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More details from HRM (highlighting is mine):

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING HALIFAX REGIONAL COUNCIL

Regional Council intends to consider and, if deemed advisable, approve the following:

Case 21956 – Proposal to amend the Halifax Regional Municipal Planning Strategy to add a reference to the Halifax Green Network Plan within the conservation design development agreement policy criteria.

The public hearing will be held on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at Halifax City Hall (Council Chamber), 1841 Argyle Street, Halifax, NS. All oral and written submissions will be considered at that time. Written submissions may be forwarded to the Municipal Clerk by mail, P.O. Box 1749, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 3A5; by fax, 902-490-4208; or by e-mail, clerks@halifax.ca. Written submissions should be received by the Municipal Clerk’s office as early as possible and not later than 3:00 p.m. on September 24, 2019. For any written submissions exceeding three standard letter sized pages in length, thirty (30) copies must be supplied to the Municipal Clerk’s office.

A copy of the staff reports may be obtained by contacting the Office of the Municipal Clerk at 902-490-4210. Alternatively, the staff report is available on-line at the following location: www.halifax.ca/sites/default/files/documents/city-hall/regional-council/190813rc1512.pdf

Further details regarding the proposal can be found at the following location: www.halifax.ca/about-halifax/regional-community-planning/community-plans/halifax-green-network-plan (Scroll down to “Short Term Regional Plan Amendment Process”)

ACC # C320-6912

Some extracts from Item No. 15.1.2 Halifax Regional Council August 13, 2019 (bolding is mine):

The Halifax Green Network Plan (HGNP) defines an interconnected open space system for the entire municipality, highlights ecosystem functions and benefits, and outlines strategies to manage open space.
Specifically, the HGNP provides land management and community design direction to:
? maintain ecologically and culturally important land and aquatic systems;
? promote the sustainable use of natural resources and economically important open spaces; and
? identify, define and plan land suited for parks and corridors.The conservation design approach is a creative form of subdivision designed to conserve open space and significant environmental features, such as wetlands, while clustering development in suitable areas. The existing conservation design development policies in the Regional Plan effectively conserve open space within proposed developments and support many of the HGNP objectives.However, there is little policy direction to consider broader regional landscape patterns and connectivity. This may inadvertently allow development within important wildlife corridors. Specifically, Regional Plan
Policy S-17 states:

S-17: For any conservation design development application made pursuant to policies S-14, S-15 or
S-16, HRM shall consider the following criteria:…
(k) connectivity is maintained with any open space on adjacent parcels and trails and natural
networks, as generally shown on Map 3;…

While the above policy criterion is helpful, it is limited due to its specific reference to Map 3 of the Regional Plan. Map 3 does not map the important and essential wildlife corridors shown in the HGNP.

Consequently, to avoid potential conflicts in the near term, staff recommend a narrowly focused amendment to the Regional Plan’s conservation design development agreement policies to specifically reference the Important and Essential Corridors shown on Map 5, Green Network Ecology Map, contained in the HGNP. This will provide a clearer, more up-to-date basis for municipal staff and developers to consider such corridors as part of the conservation design development agreement process.

The reference to Map 3 of the RMPS is removed, as the corridors shown in the HGNP are a refinement of the natural networks shown
on Map 3 of the RMPS: