Pam Lovelace says that unless the municipality acts now, nothing will be done any time soon to improve Hammonds Plains Road.
Lovelace is the councillor for Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets. On Monday night, she attempted to jumpstart the byzantine bureaucratic process for improving the road.
At a meeting of the North West Community Council, she asked for a staff report on a functional plan for Hammonds Plains Road, saying the time for improvements on that road is now because the Halifax Regional Municipality has been “sidelined” by the province and Bill 329.
Bill 329 is Premier Houston government’s new and contentious housing bill that Halifax Mayor Mike Savage has slammed as “egregious overreach.”
Lovelace’s motion calls for a report “outlining and prioritizing the steps needed to initiate the planning and consultation process to develop a Functional Plan for Hammonds Plains Road.”
The motion said the report should include the following:
- Impact of “Schedule J” growth restrictions on developing a connected public road network [Schedule J is a map forming part of the Regional Subdivision By-Law that imposes growth control mechanisms by limiting subdivision in the Beaver Bank / Hammonds Plains area];
- The increase of population and traffic due to large MU [mixed use] as-of-right developments;
- Previously promised connections to Margeson Drive, Eider Drive, Lucasville Road;
- Lack of power poles and lines for streetlight infrastructure on Hammonds Plains Road;
- Need to improve wooden cross-culverts and stormwater infrastructure, including stormwater easements on private property;
- Modernizing intersections and installing turn lanes for public transit and traffic flow;
- Implementing pedestrian safety infrastructure including crosswalks, safer off-street transit stops, and connecting to Lucasville Greenway Project; and,
- Alignment with work already underway to resolve flooding at Bluewater Road and St. Margarets Bay Road, as well as planned upgrades to Halifax Water infrastructure including decommissioning Uplands Park Wastewater Treatment Facility.
During the community council’s virtual meeting Monday night, Lovelace noted that the Hammonds Plains Road has “significant deficiencies from an infrastructure perspective,” including flooding.
“All of this has been growing and getting worse because of the immense development that is happening in District 13, but also because people are using Google apps, they’re using transportation and drive apps, and they’re being told to drive on Hammonds Plains Road, not Highway 103,” Lovelace said.
“It’s really interesting how many people are coming up from the downtown area or the Bedford area, or whatever, and they’re not taking Highway 103 to get to Bridgewater. They’re using Hammonds Plains Road.”
Lovelace noted that Sandy Lake, which is one of the province’s special planning areas, is also in Hammonds Plains. And, she said, the Uplands Park wastewater treatment facility will be decommissioned and the roadway where those pipes from that facility are now located will be ripped up. Both of those developments will cause more traffic and issues on Hammonds Plains Road.
We should be envisioning a new intersection at Larry Uteck, looking at widening the road, all of these sorts of things in order to increase traffic flow, to increase pedestrian safety, but because it’s been such a piecemeal work over the last 12-15 years, we haven’t had an opportunity to sit down with community and really plan out where those pressure points are, how to alleviate them, and what the road should look like in the future, knowing it should be a piece of a strategic road network, but it’s not in the Integrated Mobility Plan. It’s not even mentioned. So, now is the time to bring all those pieces, and all that work that is happening in silos and bring it all together to get a functional plan in place.
Hammonds Plains is mentioned twice in the Integrated Mobility Plan; once as an example of paved shoulders in the rural context of a road retrofit, and again regarding the Middle Sackville Connector, which connects the Margeson Drive Extension to Lucasville Road.
Lovelace said her constituents have been asking her about Highway 113, but said she tells them it’s a provincial project over which the municipality has no control. The proposed four-lane Highway 113, which has been considered since the 1990s, would connect Highway 102 near the exit to Hammonds Plains with Highway 103 near the exit to Sheldrake Lake. That highway would also cut across the proposed area for the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes.
Coun. Tim Outhit asked for a timeline on the functional plan. Lovelace said getting a timeline would be “very difficult.”
“We’ve just been sidelined by the province with Bill 329,” Lovelace said.
“They know that Schedule J is in place. If Schedule J is lifted by the province intentionally, without input, that kind of changes how we go about building Hammonds Plains and St. Margarets, and Beaver Bank as well.”
Schedule J within the Hammonds Plains, Beaver Bank and Upper Sackville Land Use By-law imposes growth control mechanisms by limiting subdivisions in the Beaver Bank and Hammonds Plains.
Outhit also asked if the discussions and report would be a “top to bottom” vision of Hammonds Plains Road, including the portions that are in his district of Bedford-Wentworth.
Lovelace said the functional plan would include the entire road.
“We actually own the road now, we own a whole road, finally, so now is the time to take over full ownership of it and build a vision for the future,” Lovelace said.
Lovelace said she already discussed this report and issue with Coun. Lisa Blackburn, since Hammonds Plains and Blackburn’s District 14 share Lucasville Road.
“This is timely because of Bill 329. If we thought we saw the Wild West in the last decade of growth, even the last three years of growth in District 13, I think the floodgates are open at this time, especially if Schedule J is lifted,” said Lovelace. “That being said, it could be lifted very strategically to provide community connector roads that are needed for life, safety, protection of property and persons.”
The motion was unanimously approved by community council.