Carbonear review draws varying takes on town’s needs

By Mark Squibb / August 4, 2023

Consulting firm UPLAND Planning  + Design Studio published the ‘What We Heard’ Report this past week. The report is a summary of the initial consultation process that was undertaken to prepare a new Municipal Plan and development regulations for the Town of Carbonear. The document, which can be found on the Town’s website, is an indication of varying and sometimes opposite views of what residents would like to see.

While some folks described Carbonear in adjectives such as friendly, quaint, historic, and beautiful, others described it as inaccessible, unwelcoming, and complacent. Some said Carbonear is a “walkable’ town, while others bemoaned a lack of sidewalks and rest spots, arguing that makes it a very difficult place to walk. Some residents expressed concerns over homesteading and raising of livestock in residential areas, while others expressed support for small scale farming contending it to be part of Carbonear’s rural lifestyle and heritage. Some lawyers were in support of home-based businesses in residential areas, while others called for tighter restrictions on them and maintained they should pay the same taxes as storefront businesses. Some survey respondents said residents should be allowed to build backyard greenhouses without a permit, whereas others said permits for such things should be necessary.

There were many areas in which people were in agreeance. More than 90 per cent of the survey respondents said they believe the preservation of heritage properties is important. There was also a consensus that maintenance of heritage buildings is not being adequately addressed and that there are far too many vacant buildings in town. There was also a cry for more recreation spaces, including a splash pad, community centre, movie theatre, bowling alley, and aquarium. Residents were also in agreement that the lack of a hotel in Carbonear hinders the town’s ability to reach its tourism potential.

Of the 16 respondents to the Business Survey, nearly a third rated Carbonear as a poor place to do business. Some respondents claimed businesses face too much red tape and that response times from the Town Hall are too slow. One respondent accused the Town of focusing on the downtown core at the expense of other businesses.

The feedback used to compile the report was collected through an in-person public meeting, surveys, interviewers, public drop-in sessions and discussions with council and staff, held between March and June of this year. The results of the public survey are included in the report.

For example, when asked, “What makes Carbonear a great place to live?” some 69 percent of 118 respondents’ first choice was scenic ocean views. When asked to identify the most pressing need that council should address, 53 precent agreed it is road conditions.

The report speaks largely in general terms, but a special section dedicated to Gunners Pond was filed under ‘Additional Feedback.’

“We heard from several survey respondents about a strong desire for the town boundary to include Gunners Pond and Line Road,” reads the report.

Folks on Gunners Pond, a small neighbourhood past Camp McCarthy, have requested council rezone land on the north and south side of their area from Residential Seasonal Density to Residential Rural. An earlier request along the same lines was rejected by council.

“If rejected again, they have requested a full explanation of the Town’s rationale, before they move onto the appeal process,” reads the report.

The report also notes numerous requests have been made over the past two years for grading along Line Road, White Carriage Lane, and Gunners Pond Road without much success.

“Therefore, a request has been made for permission to engage a private contractor to carry out the work on Gunners Pond Road,” reads the report.

The Town’s current Municipal Plan and Development Regulations were adopted in 2004. Numerous amendments have been made to the plan over the years, so much so that council, in 2022, budgeted $40,000 to create a new plan and regulations.

Work on it was stalled briefly when cost estimates came in at $100,000 — over twice what had been budgeted.

Council eventually awarded the contract to UPLAND in September of 2022 at a cost of $88,101.

Carbonear also this past June adopted a new strategic plan, with a focus on long term economic development, recreational and cultural opportunities, delivery of high-quality core services, and infrastructure maintenance.

The Town is also drafting a Recreation Master Plan.

That plan, which is being prepared by Tract Consulting Inc., is to be completed this year, and will lay out Carbonear’s recreation priorities for the next decade. It will include a review of existing programs and infrastructure and look to increase opportunities for leisure and wellness activities for all ages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *