Take one group of engaged citizens concerned about proposed development in their neighbourhood, add some up-and-coming planners, throw in a non-profit organization that’s committed to improving planning and design and what do you get? A community-driven vision for the future!
Wyse Society for Sensible Urban Development (WSSUD) came together in 2012 in response to the HRM by Design Centre Plan. The group was concerned about the lack of adequate community input to the plan. They were also opposed to proposed zoning changes that would permit the construction of high-rise buildings along Wyse Road next to the Macdonald bridge.
Since that time, WSSUD, with the help of Sustainability students from Dalhousie, has held several community consultations. The group also commissioned Dalhousie Master of Planning students to produce a planning-alternatives report. The report became part of a presentation to Halifax Planning staff on the WSSUD vision of Wyse Road as a walkable, bikeable and liveable gateway community.
On December 4th, you have a chance to hear WSSUD’s vision when they present to the Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council at 6pm at the Dartmouth Sportsplex.
WSSUD’s treasurer Doug Rigby fills Hello Dartmouth readers in on some of the details:
What does the Wyse Society for Sensible Development hope to achieve?
DR: Two goals; the first is to facilitate neighbourhood participation in the area planning process and the second is to develop and present a range of planning alternatives which will accommodate a modest increase in density while preserving the present mix of residential and commercial development.
Who is connected with WSSUD?
DR: The group consists of a handful of area residents. While membership is open, rather than attempting to attract a large membership, the society is focused on engaging neighbourhood organizations and interest groups around the topic of urban and social planning.
How has the city reacted to this kind of grassroots involvement in planning?
DR: Educational institutions, namely planning and environmental students at Dalhousie University, have helped us develop a citizen participation toolkit and a set of creative planning alternatives. We have also been encouraged and supported by the Planning and Design Centre, our local councillor and most recently by staff working on the HRM by Design Centre Plan.
What’s happening at the Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council meeting on December 4th?
DR: We hope to brief Council and others on the work we have done to date and to seek their approval to continue building community planning participation to build a vibrant, caring community as a gateway between Halifax and Dartmouth.
Why should people get involved?
DR: Planning is like guiding the growth of a young plant or a young person: the earlier you start the process, the easier and less costly it is to influence a positive direction. People who are happy to live or shop in the Wyse Road area should get involved in shaping its future.