Jimmy Melvin Sr.’s Shad Bay apartment building. — KWR Approvals
Jimmy Melvin Sr.’s Shad Bay apartment building. — KWR Approvals

The Halifax and West community council approved a development agreement this week for a seniors residence in Shad Bay — owned by a numbered company registered to Jimmy Melvin Sr. — despite one area resident’s claim she was threatened near the property.

Kevin Riles, project manager at KWR Approvals Inc. made the application on behalf of his client, 3274302 Nova Scotia Limited, to legalize the existing use of a building at 11 Osprey Drive in Shad Bay. The community council held a public hearing Wednesday night to consider the development agreement application.

The owners of that numbered company are listed in the registry of joint stocks as James E. Melvin and Deborah Melvin of Fall River.

James E. Melvin is better known as Jimmy Melvin Sr. — the patriarch of the Melvin family. In 2018, a supreme court justice described Melvin and his son, Jimmy Melvin Jr., as “notorious and violent crime figures in this city.”

The Melvins bought the property in Shad Bay 2015.

“It was a hotel up to about 2015, then the clients purchased it and assumed that you could just basically go from a 16-unit hotel to a 16-unit apartment, which led to us having to come back to council,” Riles told the community council at a public hearing Wednesday night.

Municipal planner Jacqueline Belisle framed it differently.

“There is currently a land-use bylaw compliance issue,” Belisle told the community council.

“This building was converted to not a motel use, but to a dwelling, without any municipal permits.”

Riles said his clients have spent about $100,000 since 2015 upgrading the units and adding an accessible ramp outside. Tenants range in age from 55 to 90 years old, and the rents are affordable, Riles said.

“This is a very nice area, very scenic,” Riles said.

“The rents for these units are $500 to $600, which for the seniors living there is very good, very affordable. The youngest tenant in the building is 55 and the oldest tenant is 90.”

The view of the water from the building. — KWR Approvals
The view of the water from the building. — KWR Approvals

The only way for this kind of residential use to be permitted in the area is under a section of the land-use bylaw allowing for seniors residences. Any other residential use is capped at two units.

Coun. Lindell Smith asked whether there’s any way of ensuring the tenants are actually seniors, and Belisle said the municipality has no way of regulating or enforcing the age of the tenants.

Area resident says she was threatened

One member of the public, Valerie Coolen, spoke during the virtual public hearing, and was the only person to name the property owners during the meeting:

I want to bring to attention that there was an incident back in July — and that was the first one for this year, and there has been other incidents —  where there were a group of young adults who were partying on the water in front of the motel, and they threw approximately two to three dozen empty alcoholic beer containers. They had no respect for the homeowners or for the environment or for the area.

And when I addressed it and asked them to stop and told them I have no problem with people enjoying themselves, they then informed me that they were from Spryfield, and they were related to the homeowner, which they addressed as Mr. Melvin, and that if I knew what was good for me, I would keep my mouth shut and leave them be.

Myself and two other homeowners, we picked up about between two and three dozen empty alcoholic beverages. And it’s not very nice to be threatened in your own … where you live, by people who were using the property to enjoy the amenities. So with the apartment complex is there not a superintendent responsible for their tenants and anyone who is using the property?

I just want you to be aware, for residents in the area, that it doesn’t come across as being welcoming when we have this sort of things going on and to be threatened and to feel threatened.

Riles said his focus is on the land development, not the operation. He said he’d pass on the concerns to the owners, but there is a superintendent for the building. He called the resident’s experience “unfortunate.”

“I wasn’t aware of that situation,” Riles said.

Coun. Stephen Adams, the chair of the committee and the councillor for the area, also called the incident “unfortunate,” but said it’s not a reflection of the land use.

Coun. Shawn Cleary said he too appreciated Coolen’s concerns, but said they’re not land-use issues and should be dealt with through police or 311.

“In terms of the land-use, I’m fine with this and I’ll certainly be supporting the application,” Cleary said.

The community council unanimously approved the development agreement, and the discharging of the old one allowing the motel.

Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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  1. So, it’s a land-use “issue” that can be resolved by changing the designation to “seniors’ residence”. Problem is, that leaves a group of disadvantaged people paying rent to someone the courts regard as a career criminal. You could think of it as a “people use” issue.

    What’s a city council to do? It could tell the crime boss to pound sand and take his losses. Or, it could apply the principles that govern “developer-issues”, and instead tell the tenants to pound sand, which council did.

    It takes guts to stand up to crime bosses. Valerie Coolen did It but, hey, she’s got 311 backing her.

    As for Council, cowardice beats waking up with a severed horse-head on the pillow beside you.