Moncton approves controversial subdivision planners thought should be rejected

A rendering of the proposed Eastgate Village off Elmwood Drive in Moncton proposed with a mix of low- to high-density housing. (ELCE Developments Inc/Submitted - image credit)
A rendering of the proposed Eastgate Village off Elmwood Drive in Moncton proposed with a mix of low- to high-density housing. (ELCE Developments Inc/Submitted - image credit)

Moncton councillors voted to approve a subdivision city staff and the municipal planning committee recommended rejecting.

A series of 7-4 votes to amend city bylaws and plans took place for Eastgate Village without debate Monday.

The series of votes followed lengthy meetings in August and October on the issue.

Planning staff said Eastgate shouldn't be approved because it goes against an emissions reduction plan and a policy to limit sprawl.

ELCE Developments Inc.'s proposal calls for 956 housing units — houses, townhouses and apartments — off Elmwood Drive. The subdivision near Irishtown Nature Park would also feature a private school called Eastgate Academy.

Most of the 144.6 acres where the subdivision is proposed is outside an area the city defines as its serviceable boundary. Areas outside cannot connect to city water and sewer systems. The boundary set in the municipal plan is meant to discourage sprawl.

City of Moncton/Submitted
City of Moncton/Submitted

Where that line was drawn became a key point in the debate over approval. A trailer park, high school and a subdivision farther north of the Eastgate site are within the boundary.

The votes Monday amended the boundary to include the Eastgate site, as well as rezoning the property.

Moncton's community energy and emissions plan approved by council in July calls for the city to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan modelled no new residential growth outside the serviceable boundary.

"Adding a low-density development at the outskirts of the city will set the city further back from its emissions reduction target," a city staff report states.

Mayor Dawn Arnold apologized Monday for saying in October that it would be "not smart" to approve the plans.

Arnold had said in August that councillors were facing "political pressure" on the issue. Daniel Allain, the province's minister of local government, had lobbied for the subdivision. Allain said he was advocating for more housing in his Moncton East riding.

Bill Hennessey with ELCE Developments Inc. said Monday that he was pleased a majority of council had approved the subdivision.

Council's votes allow the company to move ahead with the first phase, expected to include 142 building lots. Infrastructure upgrades, including a higher capacity sewer line under Elmwood Drive, are required before subsequent phases.

Hennessey said he hopes to get work started on the first phase as early as next spring.

ELCE Developments Inc/Submitted
ELCE Developments Inc/Submitted

Coun. Paulette Theriault, who represents the area, has said in interviews she supported the plans because her ward seemed to be neglected as the city allowed rapid growth elsewhere.

"It seemed that our area, Ward 1, was really limited to — I don't know — three kilometres from downtown whereas the other development in the northwest is really 12 kilometres at the moment, and no one seems to be concerned or saying anything about this," Theriault said Monday.

Those areas in the northwest are within the current serviceable boundary.

Monday also saw councillors approve another subdivision in the area called the Vineyard. City staff had recommended rejecting it for the same reasons as Eastgate.

The proposal from Harry Wynberg Sr. dates back about three decades and has stalled at several points because of concerns related to water and sewer lines.

Council also voted 7-4 on the Vineyard plans.

Arnold, and Councillors Charles Leger, Monique LeBlanc and Susan Edgett were the four votes against both Eastgate and the Vineyard.