At a public meeting on April 4 the council answered questions about proposed amendments to the town plan, one of which is being put forth to open the way for such a development.
A Town Centre
A little over a year ago, developer Lyman Langille and consultant Bill Fleming approached the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay with an idea.
Mr. Fleming said when he arrived in town he asked around for the town centre. He said he received a variety of responses but no answer that gave the idea of one established centre.
The developers proposed a town centre to council, who agreed to work on freeing the land for such a development, which would then be taken over by the developers.
Goose Bay Capital was formed to develop the piece of land.
“We thought it was important to the people of Happy Valley-Goose Bay,” Mr. Fleming said.
The developers have completed projects to boast of their abilities.
Bedford Commons in the Halifax Regional Municipality is one of these multi-use centres. Thus far, that centre has a retail shopping area with residential properties and green spaces in the works as part of the master plan.
The plans for Happy Valley-Goose Bay are similar but on a smaller scale.
The land proposed for the Centre is the area where Hamilton River Road meets the Trans-Labrador Highway, running behind Valleyview to the area of the town hall.
The land is currently owned by the province, which means the province would have to approve the proposed development.
Under the existing town plan, that area is currently designated as Residential Low Density with some Commercial, Environmental Protection and Public areas. The town is proposing to amend the designations to make the entire area Centre Goose Bay with Public Utility areas.
Exactly what will be contained within the town centre had not been decided but the town is confirming the area will be multi-use with a mix of residential, commercial and green spaces.
“Before a shovel goes into the ground there has to be a concept of what that parcel of land will look like,” Mayor Abbass said.
The town has to approve design as well before the project can begin.
The plan met with some opposition at the April 4 public meeting, mainly from residents of the areas of town such as Valleyview in MOT, who would have the development in their landscape. A major concern was the transmission lines, which would run below their properties.
Another concern expressed was for the businesses that already exist in the area and the competition they would face from major retail chains.
At a public meeting with the developers on Apr. 5, attending members of the public were asked how they would like to see the area used.
Needless to say, Wal-Mart was mentioned more than once. Such box stores are part of the idea the developers have in mind but other ideas suggested at the meeting included a line of stores, with a pedestrian walkway. In this way, it was suggested that even current town businesses could be incorporated into the centre.
The public also made such suggestions as a senior’s complex and professional offices.
The developers presented maps with the proposed areas marked and allowed the public to suggest a design for an ideal town centre.
Based on the feedback the public gives, the developers will draw up a design to give a general concept of where the roads, power lines, residential areas and buildings will be constructed. It has already been decided that the area will contain no heavy or light industrial areas.
The next step in the process is for the town to present its proposed amendments for the area to the municipal affairs department.
The concept for the proposed town centre has to be finalized before this process can begin.
If Municipal Affairs approves the changes, the town will hold public hearings towards adoption of the new town plan.
They expect to begin this process by late June or early July.
A commissioner appointed by the town would lead the hearings. That person would present a final report to council.
Council would then approve the amendments, which would become law, allowing the town centre development to begin.
Mr. Langille said the developers would like to start the project as early as next year. He said the project is planned despite the outcome of the Lower Churchill Project.
If the Lower Churchill were to happen, he said, the development would simply happen faster.