First test of PlanSJ?

Note: As always, the following post is written by myself as a tax paying citizen of Saint John, and do not reflect the views of any other group or organization!

As highlighted by the Telegraph-Journal last week, three new development projects are seeking approval from Council that clash with PlanSJ:

Developers will soon ask city council for the green light to build more than 250 homes along Loch Lomond Road, but they will likely have to prove their projects pass the muster of the municipality’s new plan.

Two numbered companies and A. J. Mallette & Sons have proposed three separate developments on the east side artery. And they want to build fairly big subdivisions, ranging from 69 to 111 lots.


One of the proposed developments, a 69-lot subdivision on 2797 Loch Lomond Rd. near Greenwood, would be in a rural, non-serviced area.


The other two big proposals for Loch Lomond Road would not fall inside any of these targeted areas.

A numbered company proposes a 76-lot subdivision on 1429 Loch Lomond Rd., between Bon Accord Drive and Ganong Road. Another numbered company wants to build a 111-lot subdivision on 1515 Loch Lomond Rd., between Ganong Road and Pauline Street. Both proposals ask for zoning that would allow for one and two-family homes.

The issue is that this isn’t a test of PlanSJ – it’s a test of Council to actually follow the draft plan:

  • The rural development plan definitely goes against PlanSJ. The plan is clear that growth outside the serviced areas of the city isn’t sustainable. There is room for minor development in the rural areas; but, it’s meant to be small growth on existing streets.
  • The two suburban plans are also against the Plan.  While these plans are both located inside the serviced area of the city, the Future Land Use Map identifies this area as Stable Residential and not inside an intensification area (meaning major change, such as two new subdivisions, is not planned here).  See below for more information on Stable Residential areas – special emphasis on Policy LU-82 section f.

From the Draft Municipal Plan document (still open to citizen feedback):

3.5.4 Stable Community Areas

These lands are other developed lands inside the Primary Development Area identified as Stable Community Areas the City which are generally built-out and are not anticipated to receive major change over the planning period. Three land use designations are established in this Plan to provide policy direction for the future use of land in these areas:

Stable Residential Areas

Council shall:

Policy LU-80 Create the Stable Residential designation on the Future Land Use Map.  Within the Stable Residential designation, housing of almost every form and density may be found and its acceptability is dependent on its specific location.  In addition, other compatible uses may be found in the Stable Residential designation including convenience stores, home occupations, parks, and community facilities which are permitted in the designation without amendment to the Municipal Plan.

Policy LU-81 Intend that the areas designated Stable Residential will evolve over time from a land use perspective but that new and redeveloped land uses are to reinforce the predominant community character and make a positive contribution to the neighbourhood.

Policy LU-82 Ensure that significant new development and redevelopment in areas designated Stable Residential shall generally be permitted only subject to a rezoning process where compliance is demonstrated with the following criteria:

a.  The proposed land use is desirable and contributes positively to the neighbourhood;

b. The proposal is compatible with surrounding land uses;

c.  The development is in a location where all necessary water and sewer services, parks and recreation services, schools, public transit and other community facilities and protective services can readily and adequately be provided;

d.  Site design features that adequately address such matters as safe access, buffering and landscaping, site grading and storm water management are incorporated;

e.  An exterior building design of high quality is provided that contributes positively to

f.  The proposal is on a property identified as a Corridor in the City Structure Map or new residential development to the Primary Centres, Local Centres, and Intensification Areas.

It will be interesting to see what Council decides.  I will be watching to see if the draft plan is followed (and hopefully mentioned as part of the decision making process).

Ignoring this draft plan (and in turn the feedback from many citizens of Saint John over the past year and a half) would not instill a great deal of confidence in me that the finalized Municipal Plan, to be adopted this fall, will be followed going forward.

Join in the conversation on Saint John’s Municipal Plan online using: Twitter (via the hashtag #plansj) or the Facebook Group!

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PlanSJ – Up for Review Open House

Published on 2011-06-14 by in News, PlanSJ, Saint John

PlanSJ will be hosting a “Up for Review” open house from 5:30pm-9pm on Wednesday, June 15th, 2011 at Saint John High School.

Below are additional details from the PlanSJ website:

What will we be talking about?

Open House Agenda:
5:30-9:00pm –Open House
6:00 – Presentation

The new Municipal Plan will guide development and investment in the City for the next 25 years and will inform the review of the Zoning and Subdivision By-laws and the development of new Service Plans and Neighbourhood Plans.

The DRAFT Municipal Plan being presented at the “Up for Review” Open House for the community’s feedback was developed based on what we heard from the community through PlanSJ engagement and what we learned from technical and best practices research.

We’ll be reviewing and looking for community feedback on the policies in the DRAFT Municipal Plan and the land use designations on the DRAFT Land Use Map.

Do I need to register?

No.  You’re welcome to drop into the Open House at any time, but we encourage you to be there for the 6:00pm presentation.

If I can’t come to the Workshop, is there any other way I can comment on the DRAFT Municipal Plan?

Yes.  The same panel set is up in the PlanSJ Storefront and copies of the DRAFT Municipal Plan and Workbook are available at the Storefront and for download below. The Open House will be followed by a four-week public review period and we ask that all comments on the DRAFT Municipal Plan be submitted by Friday, July 15th, 2011 to help us meet our tight timelines.  Please respond by e-mail to or in writing at the PlanSJ Storefront.

Join in the conversation on Saint John’s Municipal Plan online using: Twitter (via the hashtag #plansj) or the Facebook Group!

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PlanSJ Choices for Growth and Change Open House

Published on 2010-09-29 by in News, PlanSJ, Saint John

PlanSJ will be hosting a “Choices for Growth and Change” open house from 4pm-9pm on October 14th, 2010 at Simond’s High School.

Below are additional details from the PlanSJ website:

Who is invited?

Everyone in the Saint John community is encouraged to attend the PlanSJ Choices for Growth and Change Open House on Thursday, October 14th, 2010 from 4:00pm – 9:00pm in the Simonds High School gymnasium.  The event is family-friendly and children are welcome.

Where is it?

Simonds High School is located at 1490 Hickey Road (insert map) and the gym is wheelchair accessible.
What is the agenda?  The Choices for Growth and Change event will include an Open House from 4:00pm – 6:00pm where everyone is welcome to drop in, view displays and information on the Choices and talk to the PlanSJ team one-on-one.  At 6:00pm, the PlanSJ team will give a presentation to explain the Choices as well as the research and public engagement that went into creating them, and will answers questions from the community.  From 7:00pm – 9:00pm there will be interactive workshop on the Choices. We encourage everyone to stay for this part of the event.

Who is the PlanSJ team?

The PlanSJ team consists of our Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) – 13 citizens who are advising the PlanSJ project team and Common Council on community-based issues during the development of the new Municipal Plan, staff from Urban Strategies an urban planning consultancy based in Toronto and planning staff from the City’s Community Planning Service.

What will we be talking about?  The Choices represent different ways that Saint John could choose to grow, change and develop over the next 25 years.  Our research and feedback from the community clearly shows that our current pattern of growth is not sustainable. We are looking for the community to comment on what they like, dislike, and would like to see changed about the Choices presented at the Open House.  The Choices are essentially areas where growth and change will be targeted in the future, and will be shown on maps and explained in other documents.

Download the PDF invitation for more details!

Join in the conversation on Saint John’s Municipal Plan online using: Twitter (via the hashtag #plansj) or the Facebook Group!

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PlanSJ Video

Published on 2010-09-04 by in PlanSJ, Saint John, Videos

Earlier in August, a new PlanSJ video was released; however, I completely forgot to post it here!

Check it out below:

Join in the conversation on Saint John’s Municipal Plan online using: Twitter (via the hashtag #plansj) or the Facebook Group!

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Saint John NB: From Decay to Prosperity through People, Planning, and Process

Be sure to check out this recent Smart Growth Leadership Case Study that was just released on Saint John, NB:

Saint John NB: From Decay to Prosperity through People, Planning, and Process

by David Holman. (ne/efc case 10-02)

Saint John, New Brunswick, a booming commercial and shipping center in the 19th century, became known in the 20th century as a gloomy industrial city with low quality of life, where work was hard. In the late 1990s key actors from different sectors began a series of planning and development initiatives that spurred growth and poverty reduction into the 21st century. Local and regional leaders began meeting and planning together to attract and retain people by developing local assets and focusing on four key economic sectors. Through extensive community outreach and consensus-building, cultivating a spirit of collaboration that endures through political cycles, and branding Saint John as a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family, Saint John has begun to overcome its gritty reputation and reach new levels of more sustainable development.

I had the opportunity to sit down with it’s writer, David Holman, while he was in the city to help provide input.

This Case Study, along with many others, can be found as part of a library on the University of Southern Maine’s website:

Smart Growth Leadership Profile Case Study Library

The library contains detailed case studies of smart growth projects, developments, and policy initiatives in New England communities. Developed by the New England Environmental Finance Center for its Next Communities Initiative (NCI), they are intended for use by state and local officials, lay planners, community activists, developers, conservation groups, and others involved in land use planning conflicts and opportunities.

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Glen Falls Flooding Information Session

Published on 2010-07-12 by in PlanSJ, Saint John

Flooding Information Session

Staff from the City of Saint John’s Municipal Operations Department is holding an information session for residents of Glen Falls who have been affected by flooding. Residents will be able to see displays and results from recent studies on how we might address the problem.

  • Thursday July 15, 2010
  • Exhibition Park
  • Session begins at 6:30pm
  • Formal presentations begin at 6:45pm
  • A question and answer session will follow.

Flyers are being distributed to residents in the area.

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Stop Saint John Sprawl

The Facebook Group “Stop Saint John Sprawl” is starting to get some media attention!

Today’s Telegraph-Journal featured an article “Facebook group fosters debate about planned highway expansion“:

SAINT JOHN – Smart cities grow up, not out, says Kurt Peacock, a Saint John civic activist and urban researcher.

Peacock, and fellow civic activist Shawn Peterson, are the administrators of a rapidly growing Facebook group called Stop Saint John Sprawl. The group, with close to 200 members, aims to create public debate about the planned Mackay Highway expansion and discuss the merits of smart and sustainable urban growth.

Plans to add two additional lanes to the Mackay Highway were unveiled in July of last year with the intention of improving traffic flow in and out of the city as part of the Route 1 Gateway Project.

The proposed expansion made headlines again this summer after Mayor Ivan Court publicly urged the province to reconsider.

Peacock said there was no public discussion surrounding the merits of the proposal, calling it “bad transportation policy.”

“There’s a maxim among transportation engineers that increasing highway capacity to combat congestion is like increasing your pant size to tackle obesity,” he said.

“It just does not work.”

Peacock referred to a report published by the provincial government outlining its goal of making Saint John a more sustainable city. He feels the planned expansion goes against a “more sustainable” Saint John and said it has little economic or environmental benefit for the city.

“That’s why we’ve created this group and we’re hoping in the weeks and months to come to challenge candidates for the New Brunswick legislature and find out quite simply, are they for or against urban sprawl,” he said.

The group is home to posts both for and against the proposed expansion, in addition to posted studies, reports and examples of how other cities have fared through highway expansions.

Peacock said studies done on cities such as Los Angeles, Atlanta and Toronto have proven that expanding highways can have a negative effect.

“They’re much less livable now than they were 20 or 30 years ago, largely because government invested in highways as opposed to investing in structures that people truly care about. Better schools. Better cultural facilities. Better sports and recreation,” he said, adding that the traffic problem on the highway is miniscule in comparison to larger metropolitan areas.

For Peacock and his fellow activists, the planned expansion goes against the concept of smart growth. The concept has become one of the central discussions in this year’s Plan SJ public forum.

Read more…

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PlanSJ Opportunities and Directions Workshop – Online Surveys Are Now Available!

Published on 2010-06-16 by in PlanSJ, Saint John

Great news today for anyone who wasn’t able to attend the PlanSJ Opportunities and Directions Workshop on the weekend!

The same seven topics that were discussed by participants at the workshop have been converted into surveys that you can respond to.

Simply click on the topic below to fill out the survey:

I would strongly encourage everyone to take the time to send in your thoughts and opinions on these subjects.

Your input will be taking into account!

Join in the conversation on Saint John’s Municipal Plan online using: Twitter (via the hashtag #plansj) or the Facebook Group!

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It’s not too late to register for the PlanSJ Workshop on Saturday!

Published on 2010-06-08 by in PlanSJ, Saint John

I just wanted to post a reminder about the PlanSJ Opportunities and Directions Workshop taking place Saturday, June 12th – 10am to 4pm at Harbour View High.

This will be a great opportunity to learn more about PlanSJ – and more importantly – to provide YOUR input and ideas!

You can attend for just the morning, afternoon, or all day.

It’s not too late to register; however, to help coordinate, please RSVP right away at:

A PDF invitation is available for download here!

Join in the conversation on Saint John’s Municipal Plan online using: Twitter (via the hashtag #plansj) or the Facebook Group!

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PlanSJ Opportunities and Directions Workshop

Published on 2010-05-27 by in PlanSJ, Saint John

I really wanted to pass along this message from the PlanSJ team who are organizing the first public workshop in June!

This will be a great chance to get together with the rest of the community to voice your opinions.

Be sure to RSVP early!

Please join the PlanSJ Team on Saturday, June 12th for an interactive, family-friendly workshop to help define the Opportunities and Directions for the City’s new Municipal Plan.

PlanSJ is a two-year project to develop a new municipal plan for Saint John. The City of Saint John’s Planning and Development Service is working with a citizen advisory committee and the public to gather information about Saint John – from its history to its current population, economy and industry to the expected future growth – to develop the plan.

PlanSJ Opportunities and Directions Workshop

  • Saturday June 12th
  • 10am to 4pm
  • Harbour View High School gym
  • 305 Douglas Avenue.

The agenda for the day will feature two sessions: In the morning we will look at Saint John today – its strengths and opportunities. During the afternoon we will be talking about Saint John tomorrow – what are some of the possibilities coming forward from our research and what you think are important themes and directions for Saint’s John’s future growth and development. Your input will be key to making this a truly made in Saint John Plan. There will be children’s activities during the afternoon session (1pm to 4pm).

Please register for the workshop by June 4th by e-mail at, by phone at 635-2000 or in person at the PlanSJ Storefront in Brunswick Square (10am to 2pm Monday through Friday).

For more information please contact the PlanSJ Team at the above locations.

Please join us on the 12th!

The PlanSJ Team

A PDF invitation is available for download here!

Join in the conversation on Saint John’s Municipal Plan online using: Twitter (via the hashtag #plansj) or the Facebook Group!

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