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Planning Review

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In late 2010, the Planning Department developed a six-stage Planning Review process to provide a methodical and comprehensive framework for updating the Town's planning policies and regulations, while ensuring accountability, transparency, and public and stakeholder participation. The previous review of the Town's planning documents was conducted between 1994-1997.

Review Process

The following table briefly explains the six main stages of the process which were undertaken during the Planning Review process (2010-2014):

STAGE 1: Community Inventory Report

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Overview: Planning staff produced a 100-page detailed background report on Bridgewater, including information on socio-demographic trends, land use and development, housing, built heritage, transportation, the local environment, and much more. This document was used as a resource and educational tool to inform decision making throughout the Planning Review process.

Timeline: September - December 2010

STAGE 2: Planning Principles

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Overview: A set of unified planning principles (‘Smart Growth’) were selected early in the process to keep the Review focused and in line with sound planning theory. Smart Growth promotes a collection of principles designed to reduce wasteful sprawl, limit environmental disruption and create vibrant, compact communities.

Timeline: December 2010 - March 2011

STAGE 3: Vision & Objectives Statements

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Overview: With input from the community and PRAC, staff developed a Vision Statement that describes the desired future reality for Bridgewater from a community design, development and land use perspective. In addition, 15 new Objective Statements were developed to articulate how the Vision will be achieved. Together, the Vision and Objective Statements serve as the foundation for the Town’s new Municipal Planning Strategy.

Timeline: February 2011 - June 2011

STAGE 4: Policy & Regulation Review

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Overview: Planning staff met with the Planning Review Advisory Committee (PRAC) 28 times over a two-year period to update planning policies and regulations through the lens of the Planning Principles (Stage 2), the new Vision & Objectives (Stage 3), and in consideration of the Community Inventory Report findings (Stage 1) and best practices. Each meeting included a detailed overview of a planning theme or issue, and associated planning policy approaches to address challenges.

Timeline: June 2011 – May 2013

STAGE 5: Draft Planning Documents…

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Overview: After collecting input from the PRAC in Stage 4, staff prepared new drafts of the Municipal Planning Strategy, Land Use By-law and Subdivision By-law, complete with all relevant mapping. The Engineering Dept. led the development of the Design & Construction Standards manual. Stage 5 included extensive community consultation, and input from the Town’s solicitor and the NS Department of Municipal Affairs.

Timeline: June 2013 – January 2014

STAGE 6: Statutory Approval

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Overview: With drafts of the Municipal Planning Strategy, Land Use By-law, Subdivision By-law and Design & Construction Standards complete, staff are now in a position to initiate the statutory approval process through Council. In accordance with the Municipal Government Act, the Town shall carry out all statutory requirements associated with the approval process for the draft documents before they come into full force and effect.

Timeline: August 2014 – Late Fall 2014

Planning Review Advisory Committee

In late 2010, following the completion of Stage 1 (Community Inventory Report), the Town established an interim advisory body, the Planning Review Advisory Committee (PRAC), to help guide the Planning Review process. This multi-stakeholder body served as an interim advisory committee for the Planning Department and Town Council, and provided a high-level sounding board for the entire Planning Review process. The specific objectives of the PRAC included.

Since the establishment of the PRAC in 2010, the committee met 28 times to discuss a wide range of planning issues, challenges and opportunities in Bridgewater. These in-depth discussions helped guide the development of planning policy and associated regulations in the draft documents.

Membership of the PRAC during 2010-14 was as follows:

Kari Barkhouse, South Shore Health/Public Health/Resident Andrew Button, Lunenburg Queens Regional Development Agency Stacey Colwell, Resident Joanne Faulkenham, Town Centre Development Corporation
Dave Hadley, Bridgewater & Area Chamber of Commerce Patrick Hirtle, Resident Rosemarie Lohnes, Resident/Business Owner David Mitchell, Resident Peter Oickle, Resident Ida Scott, Bridgewater Development Association Kathleen Fralic, Youth Advisor Erin Powers, Youth Representative

In addition, the following Town representatives will participate on the PRAC:

Jennifer McDonald, Town Councillor Andrew Tanner, Town Councillor Jesse Morton, Planner Eric Shaw, Director of Planning (PRAC Chair)

Public Consultation

The Planning Review process included a broad public and stakeholder engagement program to ensure that the community's needs and desires are carefully considered. Most notably, the Town held several major public consultation events between 2011 and 2014, summarized below.


The first event, the Neighbourhood Workshop, was held on March 31, 2011. At this session, citizens were able to think critically about their neighbourhoods and provide comments on their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and future threats. This input was used to develop the Vision and Objective Statements in Stage 3.
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Using community input from the Neighbourhood Workshop, best practice research, and the Planning Principles (Stage 2), staff presented draft Vision and 15 Objective Statements during an Open House on June 29, 2011. The public indicated their support for these statements, and provided feedback that was used to improve them.
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A Downtown Master Plan was developed during Stage 4 to identify a strategic vision and policy framework for downtown Bridgewater. As part of this process, several public events were held between November 2012 and January 2013, including a walking tour, public workshop, youth workshop, design drop-in, and open house event.
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Staff conducted a two-day Open House event on January 29-30, 2014, where members of the public were able to view 17 posters highlighting some of most significant policy and regulatory changes proposed in the draft planning documents. Staff and members of PRAC were present throughout the event to answer questions and collect input.
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To view the results of the 2010-2014 Planning Review process, you may view the Town’s new planning documents here.