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Lunenburg Mayor Jamie Myra addresses vision for proceeding with Blockhouse Hill ahead of vote on whether to make lands surplus

(Lunenburg Town Hall in May 2023. Photo: Jesse Ward)

Update, 3:30 p.m. AT, 01/23/2024: This story originally said, “The Town has defined “affordable” as 30% of local median household income, which in the 2021 census for Lunenburg was $1,637 per month.” It was inaccurate to write “local median household income” – The Town of Lunenburg has defined “affordable housing” based on Statistics Canada’s median total household of $65,000 (pre-tax). In the 2016 census, the median total household income for the Town of Lunenburg in 2015 was $51,968. Thirty per cent of the median total household income for the Town of Lunenburg, per month, would be $1,300.

When Town of Lunenburg Council meets on Tuesday evening, they are expected to vote on whether to identify lands on Blockhouse Hill as surplus. They will also vote on whether to proceed with drafting development rules for a 256-unit housing development on the site.

If Council supports the motions that staff suggest they proceed with, then they will identify most of the land on Blockhouse Hill as surplus.

The Town would also start working with MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects to draft development rules for the site based on a design suggestion selected through their research and public engagement process.

In an interview with The Barnacle, Mayor Jamie Myra says he doesn’t believe a vote will pass on Tuesday on the motions as they have been proposed by staff.

He says the Town first needs more information on tax implications and feedback from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee on how various potential design options could impact Old Town Lunenburg’s World Heritage Site status.

He also says he wants to see voters in October’s municipal election able to have their say on whether the land should be developed in a plebiscite on the ballot.

The current process that has led to the prospective surplus listing of land on Blockhouse Hill has been a concern for a significant number of Lunenburgers, including more than a third of eligible voters in Town who have signed a petition to stop the process until a majority of Town residents confirm they want it to proceed.

Others have indicated a desire for development on the site, or have been content to simply let the current process unfold, as a measure that would result in more housing and a greater tax base and windfall from a land sale for the Town while it faces a housing shortage and challenging financial outlook.

Mayor Jamie Myra says his vision for proceeding with Blockhouse Hill includes a plebiscite in October’s municipal election, informed by response from UNESCO and research on tax implications

Mayor Jamie Myra spoke with The Barnacle in a 30-minute phone interview on Jan. 19, two days after the agenda including the recommendation was shared with Council and the public.

Tuesday’s agenda has three recommended motions on the topic in a report drafted by Hilary Grant, Director of Community Development:

  • That Council direct Staff to work with MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Ltd. on drafting development rules based on Design Option 2: Out of Sight.
  • That Council declare the land identified in Attachment A surplus and no longer required for Town purposes.
  • That Council direct Staff to hold a Public Information Meeting regarding selling the surplus land identified in Attachment A for residential development.

Myra says he saw these suggested motions for the first time when they appeared in the council report, and he believes these motions are on the agenda to “get the discussion going.”

“The way [the report] makes it sound is we’re going to do Option Two, and we’re going to sell the land next week and blah, blah, blah – right?”

“Well, we’re so far away from that process, it’s not funny.”

The “Out Of Sight” option is an option designed by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, the internationally-recognized firm with an office in downtown Lunenburg fulfilling an RFP the Town paid $151,000 for to produce design options for the Blockhouse Hill site. Drafting development rules for the land, that could be used as a restrictive covenant that would be a condition for purchase of the land, fulfills the RFP.

Tuesday’s Council Meeting agenda package includes the Final Report and Presentation of Development Options produced by the MacKay-Lyons team, featuring detailed outlines of designs for residential development that could take place on Blockhouse Hill, including cost estimates and details on necessary infrastructure improvements.

The “Out Of Sight” option would develop 256 units in diverse types of dwellings at an estimated cost of $128,371,300, with housing developed from the end of Creighton Street at the back of Old Town Lunenburg down to the Back Harbour. 

(A map of proposed new development for the “Out Of Sight” option. Source: Blockhouse Hill Development – Final Report, MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects)

(A rendering of an aerial view for the “Out Of Sight” option. Source: Blockhouse Hill Development – Final Report, MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects)

The staff report notes none of the design options would be visible from Old Town Lunenburg or the front harbour based on the advisory of Julian Smith, Heritage Consultant on the MacKay-Lyons.

Smith is a founding member and past president of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) Canada, and he was a co-author of UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape.

Myra says he wants to “reassure everybody that we’re not putting a for sale sign on the land.”

He says that on Tuesday, he expects Council will send recommendations for the proposals back to staff, “because they haven’t given us a report on why we should go with, ‘Number two, out of sight.’” 

He says he expects Council will ask for a staff report for all the options presented by the Mackay-Lyons team that would include further information like tax implications, and this report probably wouldn’t come back until April.

He says that while the Town would wait for this report, he sees Council simultaneously submitting the design options included in the Mackay-Lyons Presentation of Development Options to Parks Canada, to direct them to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for comment on which options could be compatible with maintaining Old Town Lunenburg’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

“In April, after we get the reports from staff of all the numbers and everything else in front of us, then, it’ll come back to council,” says Myra. 

He says he hopes that in April, Council will agree to host a number of public sessions in afternoons and evenings where citizens can have “an open, frank discussion on why they want to see the Hill developed or why they don’t – what form or variation they would have.”

“And then I think after we do all that, and we hopefully have a response back from Ottawa, then at that point – I think the council has to take everything they’ve heard, discuss it in public, decide as a council which direction they want to take, and go from there.”

(During the Barnacle’s candidates’ debate in July 2023, Myra said the first thing he would do upon being elected would be to ask Council to host public sessions on Blockhouse Hill outside of the Mackay-Lyons team process.

In the August election, Myra who had a previous term on council from 2000 to 2011 received 811 votes over the only other candidate, Gale Fullerton, who achieved 377 votes in her first run at political office. Out of all eligible voters, 1,188 out of 2,021 – or 59 per cent – voted.)

“The direction I see us taking, quite frankly, is – we come up with our decision, whatever that may be. Unless UNESCO comes back and tells us, ‘you can’t develop any of it.’ Then it’s probably going to be, ‘No development,’ from everybody,” says Myra.

“But if they come back and say – you can develop this much of it, or that much of it, or we like option three, or we like option two – whatever they come back with, we might go in that direction. I’m not saying we’re going to.”

“And if we do that, then I’d like to see us put it on a plebiscite ballot in the fall municipal election with two options – not ten, not eleven – two options. ‘Would you like to see, say – ‘Option Three’. Or, ‘Would you like to see no development on the hill at all.’”

“It’s very clear, but we can’t put that on a plebiscite until we know some of the answers to some of the questions we’ve been receiving.”

“And we also need to know some of the answers to some of the questions that we really need to know as a council – like, how much money is this going to bring in? How much will this affect our tax rates moving forward, and how much will our tax rates be affected moving forward by not developing it at all – you know, with the infrastructure that we need to do.”

“We need all those things to prove to the people one way or the other what we need to do, and then let the citizens of Lunenburg – it’s their hill, I’ve said that during my campaign, it’s not my hill, it’s not Council’s hill – it’s the Town citizens’ hill, let them decide.”

“But I will say this – we have to make it very clear if this is a direction we take, that both council and the other side of the Hill debate right now have to be like adults and accept the results.”

“And 51 per cent is just the way the democratic process works. So I’m very hopeful that one way or the other, we’re up around 70, because that gives you more of a mandate. But the way the world works – if you get 51 per cent saying they want some type of development, or 51 per cent saying they want no development – both sides have to move on, in my opinion, and work together to make Lunenburg an even better place to live than it is already.”

“That’s my vision of this plan. Now, I’m one person out of seven. So I certainly can’t tell you that’s how we’re going to go, but I can pretty reassuringly tell you that nobody’s putting up for sale sign on this piece of property anytime soon, and we’re not going to approve Option Two on Tuesday night until we see some more numbers.”

Myra addresses housing affordability and availability, Town’s finances and motivations for exploring sale of land

The option suggested by staff – “Option 2, Out Of Sight” – is estimated in the Mackay-Lyons report as costing $128,371,300 to develop 256 units. 

The units would be a variety of dwellings including 143 townhouses ranging from one to three bedrooms, 84 semi-detached duplexes ranging from one to three bedrooms, 26 accessory dwellings behind primary homes, and three single detached three-bedroom homes.

The Mackay-Lyons report estimates that with this development, Lunenburg’s population would increase by 1,518 by the year 2060 – increasing the population of the Town by more than 60 per cent.

With the provided estimates, units would be developed at an average cost of $501,450.

One condition for the design options is they must contain at least 10 per cent affordable units. The Town has defined “affordable” as 30% of median Canadian household income, which in the 2021 census for Lunenburg was $1,637 per month. (In the 2016 census, the median total household income for the Town of Lunenburg in 2015 was $51,968. Thirty per cent of the median total household income for the Town of Lunenburg, per month, would be $1,300.)

This means the “Out Of Sight” option, with 10 per cent “affordable” units – if it was built with a restrictive covenant tied to the last census – would result in 26 new units in the Town of Lunenburg at an estimated monthly cost of $1,637.

Myra says when the plan to solicit for design options for Blockhouse Hill was first released, people were quick to question the “affordable housing” component of the RFP, but affordable housing is not the underlying reason for the current process.

“It proceeded in this manner because the Town of Lunenburg has tens of millions of dollars of infrastructure that needs to be done, and a very small tax base.”

At a special meeting of Council last May, CAO Jamie Doyle held a presentation on the Town’s financial outlook for the next 5-15 years that listed tens of millions in anticipated costs to maintain assets.

The presentation presented dozens of figures totalling tens of millions of dollars – almost completely guided by estimates by town staff – for necessary and optional maintenance and upgrades for town-owned buildings, and infrastructure spending – that either need to happen or would ideally happen over the next fifteen years.

(During Myra’s campaign for Mayor, at The Barnacle’s candidates’ debate in July, he addressed the presentation. He said: “We do need to fix a lot of our infrastructure. But we need real numbers, real reports and real figures in front of us. Not the report we saw a month and a half ago – numbers “between ten and fifteen million dollars.” Well, between ten and fifteen, five million, to me, is a big number. So we need more accurate numbers and more detailed reports.” The Town has not yet presented updated estimates from the May presentation.)

“And we keep hearing from provincial and federal people that the coffers are soon going to slow down because, you know, they just don’t have the money,” says Myra.

He adds the Town has still not heard back about their application for $3.2 million from the federal Housing Accelerator Fund which they initially expected to hear about last September.

“But until I hear – at least myself, and I’m only one of seven – until I hear what this is going to mean for the future, and how it’s going to impact us? I don’t feel we should just be selling it or building there for the sake of selling it right now.”

“Obviously, if you put 100 dwellings up there at – ‘whatever’ – you’re going to get quite a bit of tax revenue for that. And if you get the land appraised after you present a design option and then you get it appraised based on that, you’re going to get, I think, quite a hefty chunk of money to sell the land that can be put back in the infrastructure as well. I mean, that’s going to be worth millions of dollars, that land.”

Beyond the affordable housing requirement, Myra has one more restriction he’d like to see on any potential development – no short-term rentals. 

“One thing I’d like to see put in there as a serious component – I don’t know how you enforce it – but this should not be developed for any short-term rentals whatsoever. There has to be a covenant in there to prevent that from happening,” says Myra.

“Not two years from when it’s finished, or four years from when it’s finished – but moving into the future, there’s absolutely no short-term rentals allowed within the zoning requirements on this parcel of land.”

“I would be very disappointed if we didn’t put a covenant like that in anything that we would do on that hill moving forward, if we proceed to develop it.”

“Because that would totally defeat the entire purpose of this process, because we all know what would happen – some big developers like to build a whole bunch of little townhouses or row houses, rent them for four months of the year for massive amounts of money, and then they sit there vacant for most of the winter, and we already have enough of that going on in the community. We don’t need more of this.”

Myra, a father of two, says he “feels for everybody, but people who are 30 and under – I don’t know where they’re going to turn moving forward.” 

“I don’t know how they’re going to afford to own a house anywhere, really, unless they want to live – you know, no disrespect, but so deep in the country, or off-the-grid. To live in an urbanized sort of town center area anywhere – in Nova Scotia, right now, it’s crazy.”

He addresses the idea that an increased housing stock and diversity of dwelling sizes could help more people in town “downsize” or “rightsize” their living situations and free up currently-occupied housing for families or rentals.

“It’s kind of a rumour, you know? Yes – hopefully, if these builds happen – it might free up some houses in other areas and, and increase the housing stock,” says Myra.

“The logic is that if you have more houses, the cost will eventually come down. I’m not 100 per cent convinced of that. I mean, I know that’s what all the studies show. I know everybody coming out of school will tell you every study shows you that. But, you know, every study isn’t in Lunenburg, either.”

“Lunenburg’s a very unique town, a very unique place to live. And it’s a very highly sought after spot to retire. And most people that are moving here, that are retiring, price isn’t the big issue.”

He says “it’s going to be a struggle anywhere you see housing in this town, to be cost efficient, unless the government gets involved.”

He suggests that once the new Harbour View Haven longterm care home is built, he hopes the province “does the right thing” and works with a nonprofit group like South Shore Open Doors Association to turn their current building into an affordable housing complex, “because it’s already got most of the infrastructure there.”

The staff report in Tuesday’s agenda notes that “projections made in the Province’s Municipal
Housing Needs Report for the Town of Lunenburg
indicate that by 2027 and 2032, the Town
will require 120 and 170 new units to accommodate the growing population.”

Hundreds of Lunenburgers have signed petitions against current development process.

Land on Blockhouse Hill that could potentially become subject to development represents approximately 20 per cent of the buffer zone of the Old Town Lunenburg UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The question of how much of a risk exists to the UNESCO World Heritage Site status based on changes associated with potential development looms heavily over this entire situation. It’s a complicated topic.

(The property highlighted in orange represents the Old Town Lunenburg World Heritage Site. The property highlighted in green represents the site’s Buffer Zone. Source: UNESCO)

(The property highlighted in purple is the land that town staff suggests be declared surplus for development on Tuesday. Source: Town of Lunenburg)

Friends of Blockhouse Hill (FoBH) is a local group formed in March 2023 opposing the current process to explore divesting land on Blockhouse Hill.

According to Paula Rennie, an organiser with Friends of Blockhouse Hill, 708 people living in Town – more than 34 per cent of the Town’s voting population of 2021 recorded in July 2023 – have signed the group’s petition.

(Rennie says that in the last six months, two people have requested their names be removed, and this has been updated in the copy of the petition lodged with the Town.)

Specifically, the petition says: “We, the residents of the Town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, ask that the Town Council stop the process to sell and develop the lands on Blockhouse Hill until the Town establishes that a majority of Town of Lunenburg residents support the sale and development of the land.”

Over the last year, Friends of Blockhouse Hill has distributed posters reading “It’s More Than A Hill: Town Council, We Need To Talk”. The posters are hard to miss on a walk through Old Town, in windows of homes and businesses. 

On May 6, 2023, The Barnacle walked the entire grid of Old Town Lunenburg and photographed this poster on 65 out of approximately 400 buildings. 

(Photo: Jesse Ward)

Since last March, representatives of FoBH have publicly presented multiple reasons they oppose the current process through letters and presentations to Council. 

They have presented multiple grounds on which they are opposed to potential development on the site including potential threats to the UNESCO World Heritage Site status of Old Town Lunenburg and changes in legislation in 2017 that transferred land on Blockhouse Hill to be owned by the Town instead of Common Land.

At the Barnacle’s candidates’ debate in July during his campaign for Mayor, Jamie Myra said, “We cannot do anything in this town to ever threaten our UNESCO designation,” and, “there’s over 700 signatures now on a petition of Town of Lunenburg taxpayers that I think we might want to listen to before moving forward.”

In November, FoBH filed a detailed, complex 71-page report with the Town of Lunenburg and UNESCO, titled: Report on a Threatened UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site, “What We Learned”: Old Town Lunenburg and its Buffer Zone.

The report is attributed to Mahone Bay resident James Hallett, a retired risk management professional who lived in Bermuda for 47 years, where he served as a member of Bermuda’s UNESCO World Heritage Site Management Committee.

Its preface says the document “highlights numerous instances where the Town of Lunenburg and Parks Canada have repeatedly ignored UNESCO guidelines for protecting, managing and addressing change affecting the World Heritage buffer zone at Old Town Lunenburg.”

“We believe that the situation can be corrected once the development threat to the World Heritage buffer zone is eliminated, and the Town of Lunenburg and Parks Canada join forces to correct a worsening state of maladministration,” continues the preface.

The report includes a summary written by FoBH of the history of the settlement of Lunenburg, a detailed report on Lunenburg’s initial UNESCO nomination in 1994 and inscription in 1995, a “table of key events affecting world heritage buffer zone”, a section on “World Heritage Site Management and Governance,” and a conclusion with recommendations.

After the report was distributed in November, it was mentioned at the Nov. 28 Council meeting, during a public hearing on a draft for a new Old Town Lunenburg Heritage Conservation District Plan and By-law.

Lunenburg resident Townsend Anderson cited the FoBH report and criticised the draft, saying the draft Heritage Conservation District Plan aligned itself with “past actions of council that have put our Old Town Lunenburg World Heritage Site at risk.”

He cited the existing Heritage Conservation District (HCD) bylaw, approved in 2001.

He referred to passages from the bylaw referencing the importance of keeping Blockhouse Hill as “open space,” including:

  • In 5.1, “Conservation of the edges of the Old Town model plan”: “The Old Town has remained clearly legible in the modern landscape partly because it is bordered in its upper sections by the undeveloped open spaces of Blockhouse Hill and Gallows Hill. These areas of open space give clear definition to the edges of the old colonial town plan and are also historically significant in their own right. […] For the purposes of this conservation plan, it is important that the legibility of the Old Town’s edges not be compromised by incompatible development and that the open character of these hilltop sites be maintained.”
  • In 5.1.1, “Conservation of open space on Blockhouse Hill and Gallows Hill”: “It shall be the intention of Council to conserve the open character of Town-owned lands on Blockhouse Hill and Gallows Hill in order to maintain the clear physical definition of the edges of the historic Old Town plan and protect the historic setting of the town’s early fortifications (on Blockhouse Hill) and the Lunenburg Academy (on Gallows Hill).”

Anderson pointed out that these references to Blockhouse Hill and Gallows Hill in the existing HCD bylaw were absent from the draft under discussion.

“If you adopt this 2023 HCD plan, you will be putting our Old Town Lunenburg World Heritage Site at even greater risk, and worse, further complicating the repeal or annulment of the several Town Council actions that have put us in this tenuous position,” he said.

Following Anderson’s comments, Councillor Peter Mosher put a question to Hillary Grant, then with the title of Heritage Officer and Senior Planner – now the Director of Community Development – with the Town of Lunenburg.

“We hear this UNESCO argument so often. During all these debates, no matter what it is, it seems like it’s always the UNESCO discussion that comes up,” said Mosher. 

“When can we possibly have someone come here and definitively tell us that what we’re doing is perfectly acceptable or deemed […] what would put us in jeopardy of the UNESCO site?”

“Who can do this? We’ve had certain experts come in, and whatever they tell us gets dismissed, and you know – this debate keeps going on and on, and I’m getting really kind of tired listening to it.”

Grant replied saying the World Heritage Committee which falls under the United Nations is the body that makes decisions on world heritage listings and is the ultimate authority on interpreting world heritage documents. The council changes its composition like a municipal council does, and their decisions are put to a vote.

“So when you’re asking who can definitively say what is the answer that the World Heritage Committee would give, only the World Heritage Committee can definitively make those statements,” said Grant.

“And again, just as councils change, World Heritage Committees change, and decisions can change from one committee to another.”

At the December 12, 2023 meeting of Council, Grant presented a report to Council on the new HCD Plan and by-law.

Grant’s report on Dec. 12 addresses the FoBH report, which was submitted to the Town on Nov. 28.

Grant’s report addresses Anderson’s concerns raised on Nov. 28, and addresses the FoBH report, partially reading:

“The Report on a Threatened UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site ‘What We Learned’ Old Town Lunenburg and its Buffer Zone submitted November 28 by the Friends of Blockhouse Hill concludes that the open space character and view planes of Blockhouse Hill would be compromised by any new construction. The Friends of Blockhouse Hill are requesting the elimination of what they argue is a development threat to Old Town Lunenburg’s World Heritage listing.

It is Staff’s opinion that permitting sensitive residential development on Blockhouse Hill is not a change to municipal heritage policy, nor a threat to Old Town Lunenburg’s World Heritage Site listing. Policies relating to the HCD’s setting and view planes in the 2000 Plan mention permitted future development, including on Blockhouse Hill. This confirms that development on Blockhouse Hill would be permitted under the 2000 Plan. Map 6 appended to Old Town Lunenburg’s World Heritage Site nomination shows the lower slope of Blockhouse Hill zoned for residential development, such that nominators and reviewers knew these areas were not protected as undeveloped green space and might be built upon when Old Town Lunenburg was listed as a World Heritage Site. The lower slopes on Blockhouse Hill were also zoned for residential development when the World Heritage Committee created the World Heritage Buffer Zone in 2017. The draft Plan and By-law include all of Blockhouse Hill in the HCD for the first time, increasing heritage protection of Blockhouse Hill.”

Grant’s report additionally includes an email exchange with a Parks Canada representative, who writes: “I also want to thank you for providing Parks Canada with regular updates and information relating to any potential projects located within or with the potential to have impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage site, including the re-design of Civic Square and those located in the World Heritage site buffer zone on Blockhouse Hill, among others. Parks Canada, as Canada’s State Party representative, relies on updates from site managers to be able to accurately facilitate reporting on the State of Conservation of the World
Heritage property as part of its reporting responsibilities under the World Heritage Convention.”

Beyond the FoBH campaign, another barometer of public opinion is the “What We Heard” report drafted by the Mackay-Lyons team, summarizing and listing the responses garnered at their three public engagement sessions held over September to November 2023.

Attendance was tracked at these sessions, though you did not need to be a resident of the Town of Lunenburg to participate, and participants were not given the opportunity to share whether they live in Lunenburg or not when sharing responses. Hypothetically, the results could be skewed to include an influential number of people who do not live in Town, but showed up in person to share their opinion.

During the third public engagement session in November, 109 participants completed a ballot rating all options presented by the Mackay-Lyons team. The “Out Of Sight” option scored the highest by far.

FoBH continues to address new developments in the process. The group submitted a letter attributed to Paula Rennie on Jan. 15, included in Tuesday’s agenda, regarding the Town of Lunenburg accepting the Mackay-Lyons team’s “What We Heard” report.

“The letter says FoBH sees the public engagement sessions as “used by Town Council as a smokescreen for actual engagement with Lunenburgers on the sale of public land for private use.” “The letter says FoBH sees the public engagement sessions as “used by Town Council as a smokescreen for actual engagement with Lunenburgers on the sale of public land for private use.”

The letter addresses the survey that showed “Out Of Sight” as the preferred option: “Unfortunately for those participants who wanted no development, if they did not show housing options in their rankings, their surveys were discarded and were not included in the final tally. Paula Rennie of FOBH pointed out the problem with this to the lead architect, and she conceded the point, but would not change the process. The What We Heard report says
that of the 109 surveys handed in, 11 were deemed incomplete (those who refused to include housing options). Very possibly, others not in favour of housing development realized their surveys would be discarded and simply left without completing them.”

The letter also lists several steps the group says are necessary to request consent from UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee for various types of changes that could lead to development and multiple reasons the group has the perspective that Indigenous participation is necessary and has been lacking in this process.

This letter says that the necessary steps to have changes reviewed by the World Heritage Committee could only be responded to as early as late 2025, which would conflict with the timeline proposed by Mayor Myra for having an answer from UNESCO prior to a plebiscite this October.

In Myra’s interview with The Barnacle on Jan. 19, The Barnacle asked about the process of bringing forward design options to UNESCO.

Myra brought up Councillor Mosher’s questions to Hillary Grant on Nov. 28 about what the Town would have to do to get an answer from UNESCO, and emphasised the importance of hearing from them.

“Because until we do – it’s our staff saying the way they interpret things, and the other group saying, ‘I don’t think it’s the way they interpret it,’ and – ’who’s right,’ and ‘who’s wrong,’” says Myra. 

“So we’re believing our staff, which we should. They’re very highly educated and trained, right? So, we trust in our staff and we get basically chastised, and basically – people hate us for listening to our staff. But that’s what we have great staff for.”

“I’m a retail salesman, basically, with a Sales and Marketing Diploma from NSCC (Nova Scotia Community College),” says Myra, proprietor of the Stan’s Dad and Lad haberdashery on Lincoln Street.

“I can read all the reports I can get in front of me, and I follow them, and I listen, and I support them. And that’s my guide to making educated decisions.”

“I can’t tell you one way or the other whether UNESCO is going to like any of these, or allow any of these or not, because I have no idea. And if our staff is telling us one thing, that’s who we’re probably going to listen to nine times out of ten.”


5 responses to “Lunenburg Mayor Jamie Myra addresses vision for proceeding with Blockhouse Hill ahead of vote on whether to make lands surplus”

  1. thom barclay

    An important distinction. The 1637/mo affordable housing figure used by the town and BMLSA is not 30% of the “local median income” but 30% of the Canadian National Median income of 65,000/yr. Lunenburg Co. figures are closer to 48,000/yr placing that number around 1,200/mo.

    1. Jesse Ward

      Cheers Thom, thank you for catching this, I regret the error. The story has been updated with a correction. You are correct that the Town has used the figure of the national median income. The actual median income for the Town of Lunenburg in 2015, recorded in the 2016 census, was $51968 – so, $1,300/mo.

  2. George Case

    Can we regulate Air B&B… indeed we can. Halifax has BANNED all short term rentals in residential zoned areas unless it is your primary residence. Thats what Lunenburg needs to do.

  3. Michelle Nokken

    This is a very comprehensive article, thank you. An increased population of 60% is significant. Besides the town utility infrastructure needed for this proposed development, I hope the town considers the needs such as schools and increased hospital capacity controlled largely by the province.

  4. Wendy

    This complex issue should have started out with a cost-benefit analysis.
    The housing report on what the town needs most also should have been front and centre.
    Alternative development locations is another large piece that is sometimes mentioned but seems lost in the staff zeal to move on Blockhouse Hill alone.
    From the coverage, it seems Mayor Myra is the leading voice of reason. It is refreshing to see his small business approach to the economic and infrastructure decisions necessary for Lunenburg’s unique situation.
    Small retail businesses that survive in today’s tough climate for them must adhere to hard realities on every level of operations. Every transaction and decision has a cost-benefit analysis in mind.
    There’s also decisions about the values a small business chooses. Which, in turn, become that business’s identity.
    Like a small business, Lunenburg’s identity is its greatest asset. It’s a careful balancing act to maintain, while still functioning in the real world.

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