Our Avalon 2017 is the background report prepared by Stantec Consulting Inc. to support the process of creating a new Regional Plan for the Northeast Avalon. It is a reference for participants in the regional planning process providing information on the communities that comprise the region, the issues that they face, and the aspirations that they have expressed through the limited consultation that has taken place to date.
The report is comprised of six chapters as follows:
1 A Plan for the Northeast Avalon Region
Regional planning deals with the efficient placement of land uses and related infrastructure within an interconnected area, usually extending beyond the boundaries of a single city or town. An effective regional plan will incorporate broad decisions concerning the direction of growth within the area to which it applies and the major initiatives to be pursued to accommodate and encourage that growth. It should also provide a framework for municipal plans prepared by cities and towns comprising the Region. It should coordinate their policies and reduce the potential for conflict between them.
The current St. John's Urban Region Regional Plan (SJURRP) was adopted in 1976. Despite regular amendments over its 40-year existence, the Regional Plan has become out-of-date. The SJURRP needs to be updated to become an effective guide to the development of the Region once again. The possibilities now are much greater than they were in 1976. The new Regional Plan can be both broader in scope and more strategic in its purpose. It will be less a foundation for municipal planning and much more a link among existing municipal plans that can reinforce and coordinate their key themes. It can also be a better presented, clearer, and easier to understand document that reflects a vision for the future of the region in addition to providing a framework for its growth.
Our Avalon 2017 is the background report produced by Stqntec Consulting Inc. to support the process of creating a new Regional Plan for the Northeast Avalon. It is a reference for participants in the regional planning process for information on the communities that comprise the region, the issues that they face, and the aspirations that they have expressed through the limited consultation that has taken place to date.
2 The Region’s Municipalities
The Northeast Avalon presently encompasses 15 municipalities. The southern portion of Bell Island, which is also known as Lance Cove, is unorganized, as are the Butterpot-Witless Bay Environs, which abut the southern limit of the region between Holyrood and Bay Bulls. We have profiledeach of the Region’s 15 municipal units and the Butterpot-Witless Bay Environs. The profiles include demographic and financial information on each municipality to give the reader information to fit each in the context of the Northeast Avalon Region.
3 The Regional Landscape
The environment, whether shaped by nature or humans, is critical to the regional planning process. The ocean surrounding the Northeast Avalon Region creates a cool but highly variable climate subject to high winds that sweep over rugged terrain that many would consider inhospitable. The unique environment is nevertheless home to a wide range of plant and animal species and visually appealing to residents and many visitors. The environment has also provided valuable resources that have provided the foundation for development of the Region. The chapter discusses key features of the natural and human-made environment that the Regional Plan will seek to protect and, where appropriate, influence.
4 Economy and Demography
Future economic and demographic growth and change will depend on factors within the Region and outside its boundaries. Growth in Canada’s economy, which, like Newfoundland and Labrador, has been seriously affected by weakened energy prices, and the challenging circumstances of many other Newfoundland and Labrador communities that have relied on fishing, forestry, and mining will influence the future of the Northeast Avalon Region. Federal government initiatives to stimulate the national economy will be critical to the Region. Opportunities in rural areas of the province are likely to have a strong influence, as well, by encouraging continued in-migration of young adults seeking education and work opportunities, and older people both following their children seeking more sophisticated community services.
5 Service Delivery
The function and growth of the Northeast Avalon Peninsula depends heavily on municipal and Provincial services delivered to the Region’s many communities. Municipal governments in the Region promote their communities and work to develop their local economies, regulate building and property, build and maintain local roads, treat and distribute water, collect and treat sewage, provide fire and emergency services, and build, maintain, and encourage the use ofparks and recreation facilities. The Province also influences the form of settlement through its roles in protecting the environment, building and maintaining the highway network, policing the Region through the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, and operating the school and health care systems.
Services shape the Region. In particular, municipal water and wastewater services generally define areas as urban and rural, encouraging density where they are present and requiring separation where they are not. Roads, particularly highways provided by the Province, have a strong and even more direct influence by facilitating access to areas with potential for development and discouraging development of lands they do not reach.
The settlement of the Region, in turn, influences the provision of services. To begin with, the distribution of development across the 15 municipalities of the Northeast Avalon dictates the scale of services required from each local government. Towns in more lightly settled peripheral areas usually do not provide water and wastewater services, and the scale of remaining services is more limited because of their smaller populations. More populous and densely settled communities at the centre of the Region such as St. John’s, Mount Pearl, and Paradise, on the other hand, must have substantial municipal organizations to maintain the infrastructure and supply the services their many residents require.
6 Regional Consultation
Stantec hosted a Municipal and Stakeholder Workshop on December 1, 2016, in St. John’s. Forty-nine people attended the workshop, which included members of the Oversight Committee, municipal staff, Provincial representatives from the Department of Municipal Affairs, representatives from Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, key stakeholders, and members of the consulting team. The session provided an opportunity for municipalities and representatives of key stakeholder groups to make presentations on their priorities and expectations from the Regional Plan process. Their presentations were followed by a workshop session from which the consultants derived seven key themes that the Regional Plan should address: municipal services, transportation, environment, diversity, economy, collaboration, and governance.
While the identified themes will provide a framework for future consultations, we look forward to debating and resolving many questions through the regional planning process. The scope of the process is not by any means limited to the themes we have derived from municipal submissions. In the third and next phase of the project, Stantec will open the consultation process to the public. While we will continue to liaise with Provincial and municipal representatives, we will also solicit the participation of all interested members of the Northeast Avalon community.
We have publicized the regional planning process through a formal media launch as well as our project web site and other social media outlets. Special initiatives will reach out to youth and the elderly. Our objective will be to provide multiple avenues for citizens of all ages and backgrounds to share their ideas. The subject matter will be the Northeast Avalon Region and its future.