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HRM Preparing "Blueprint for the Future"
(Thursday, February 28/2002)-- Mayor Peter Kelly and Members of Halifax Regional Council today officially launched the municipality's Regional Planning Process, which will be undertaken in two phases over the next three years.
The Mayor and Councillors were joined at the launch ceremony at Halifax Hall this morning by representatives of the Metro Chamber of Commerce (20/20 Visioning Project), the local business community, the development community, environmental groups, universities, ratepayer and other citizen groups.
Entitled "Healthy Growth for HRM," the new blueprint for future growth will support diversity and sustainability and provide the framework for effective decision-making to preserve and protect the municipality's excellent quality of life. Although the most pressing issues are in, and around, the urban area, rural issues will also be examined.
Two key challenges of this project will be to identify the best way for the municipality to grow over the next 25 years, and to prepare a new transportation plan to ensure the movement of people and goods in an efficient, effective manner.
The Regional Planning Process will examine ways to improve the road network and transit system; examine the cost-effectiveness/benefits of a commuter rail line; and consider other programs, such as expanded Park-and-Ride. The plan will also support healthy alternatives to use of motor vehicles, such as biking and walking.
Mayor Kelly said " One of the biggest challenges that we are facing is getting commuters onto, and off of, the Halifax peninsula safely and efficiently, without compromising the integrity of stable neighbourhoods, their quality of life and the safety of their residents. This is an important challenge that will require understanding, patience and goodwill by all parties involved."
For the first time, there will be a separate plan developed for the harbour. HRM is on the verge of some new economic development opportunities connected with offshore energy projects and port activities. The municipality is also about to embark on the Harbour Solutions Project that will refocus interest on the harbour for recreation and residential development.
Mayor Kelly said the new Regional Plan will recognize that residents of HRM value diversity in all its forms - enjoying choice of lifestyles, the visual changes in community character that can be seen from one end of the municipality to the other, and appreciating the mix of cultural traditions that enrich their lives.
The Mayor said "In reference to the Regional Plan, a Healthy HRM refers to many things. It refers to a vibrant and diverse local economy, which is not only important to the municipality, but also to the Province of Nova Scotia and to the Maritime Region, in general. It refers to life in our communities and neighbourhoods, where we find much of our identity, history, and social relationships. Also, it refers to the natural environment that sustains our economy, attracts visitors, and provides us with beauty and peaceful surroundings that add so much to our quality of life."
He said the new plan will also support sustainability in HRM, by ensuring that the municipality spends tax dollars wisely, in ways that represent a good investment for the municipality and its citizens. It will also help to address challenges that develop over time, such as traffic congestion or loss of heritage buildings and significant street scapes, which can eventually undermine the local economy and quality of life. Other examples are degradation of green spaces, lakes and waterways.
Mayor Kelly said the Regional Plan will provide a framework for future decisions in the municipality in the areas such as:
o the location and form of residential growth;
o investment in the urban core;
o heritage protection;
o the expansion of industrial lands;
o improvements in the road network and transit system;
o the strategic placement of recreational facilities;
o planning for police, fire and library service; and
o the protection of our parks, lakes, and heritage resources that are so highly valued by HRM residents
The Mayor said "Over the next year, there will be many opportunities to learn about the challenges we are facing and the choices we need to make. I invite the citizens of HRM to support and participate in this process. There are some difficult decisions ahead, and all citizens need to become informed about the issues. Council and staff will be listening to what you have to say. So please come to town hall meetings, send in your ideas, check out the web site, and please get involved."
Mayor Peter Kelly