A coalition of citizens and business owners in North Sydney has formed a new association to press the municipal government for transparency and openness on issues related to development in downtown North Sydney and CBRM more broadly.
Friends of Archibald’s Wharf are concerned with the lack of process around the proposed sale of the property, a much-used community asset in downtown North Sydney. The group is asking Mayor and Council to improve the process planned for an Open House meeting scheduled for December 13th and the way in which communities are consulted when there are changes that affect them. “This is issue is not exclusive to North Sydney, it is one that affects all of the CBRM,” says Friends’ representative Earlene MacMullin.
The association has requested a change of venue for the CBRM Open House scheduled for this Saturday December 13th. “We have sent the Mayor an official request for a change of venue. There were more than 400 people in attendance at the community organized information session on Sunday evening,” says MacMullin. “That means there are at least 400 people who want more information and to better understand CMEs expansion plans. To proceed with a venue that accommodates 70-80 people is hardly a reasonable starting point for proper consultation and information sharing.
The three-hour open house scheduled for the 13th is the only official opportunity for community members to learn about CMEs plan for the much-loved community green space. “Our concerns extend from the venue to the format for the afternoon. This is our only chance to engage with CME officials and to ask questions,” says MacMullin. “Open-house style consultations in the past have proven problematic. They don’t allow for all parties to be heard, they hinder follow-up questioning, and representatives tend to answer the same three questions over and over. We are seeking some assurance that CME officials will offer a fully amplified presentation to the full assembly.”
The Friends of Archibald’s are also concerned with the long term consequences of the policy change to be voted on by Mayor and Council on December 19th.
“Council will meet on the 19th to amend a land use policy that applies to all of CBRM,” notes MacMullin. “The policy prevents the sale of waterfront recreational properties. It currently protects these properties because these are the lands upon which we base our tourism, our community vibrancy, and our downtown improvement strategies, lands like Archibald’s Wharf and the Sydney boardwalk. This proposed change renders all community waterfront recreational property across the CBRM vulnerable. Proper public consultation must occur before an amendment with such weight takes place.”