Big Pond residents rejoice after N.S. UARB nixes RV development

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CTV Atlantic

Published Wednesday, January 23, 2019 11:46PM AST

Last Updated Wednesday, January 23, 2019 11:47PM AST

It looks like a controversial RV park for Big Pond won’t happen after all.

In March, the Cape Breton Regional Council narrowly approved the development, but that decision was overturned Tuesday by Nova Scotia’s Utility and Review Board, much to the delight of some local residents who never wanted it to begin with.

Resident Michael Britten said he was “elated” when he heard the news.

“This was a lot of work put through by a lot of residents in Big Pond with a lot of support in the community,” said Britten. “It was expensive; there’s a cost to this.”

A Calgary developer had a vision to build a state-of-the-art park near Cape Breton’s scenic Bras d’Or lakes.

Phase 1 of the project featured 211 camping sites as well as 541 fully serviced sites and a water park.

Some resident’s complained about the noise and pollution this would create in their quiet neighbourhood.

CBRM council had narrowly approved the park in a 7-6 vote, but the UARB overturned that decision after hearing the residents’ appeal.

“I thought our municipality put a very, very strong case forward,” said CBRM Coun. Eldon MacDonald. “I very much believed that after the three days of hearings that we would be successful in holding up council’s decision.”

In an email, legal counsel for developer Chris Skidmore said: “it has been his hope and vision to build and develop something unique and special in Big Pond and this decision came as a shock. He also feels bad for the Cape Breton residents that really want this project.”

In their decision the UARB says they’ve reviewed all evidence and is satisfied that the decision by CBRM council approving the rezoning did not reasonably carry out the intent of the municipal planning strategy.

“It was the wrong type of development in the wrong location,” Britten said. “None of us in the community are opposed to development on the Bras d’Or lakes or anywhere in Cape Breton.”

Britten says the whole idea of reasonable protection with respect to looking at properties in proximity to any development need to be looked at seriously.

Meanwhile, the municipality hasn’t said what course of action they’ll take next, if any. Skidmore says he’ll wait on the city before determining what’s next for him.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.

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