Saint John wants feedback on map for north end plan

What counts as the north end in Saint John?

That's what city planners are looking to define as part of consultations on the North End Neighbourhood Plan, Saint John's growth committee heard Tuesday. The initiative is part of how the city is spending its federal housing funding from the Housing Accelerator Fund.

"We want the plan to be big enough but small enough that we can really give focus to each neighbourhood," community planning manager Jennifer Kirchner told the city's growth committee Tuesday.

The plan follows on the footsteps of the Central Peninsula Secondary Plan, which was ratified in 2019, and established priorities for the uptown, south end and Waterloo Village neighbourhoods.

The draft map unveiled by planners Tuesday, based on consultation with community groups, covers a 7.57 square kilometre area that encompasses 5,500 dwellings and 10,000 residents, Kirchner said.

It includes Douglas Avenue, the Old North End, the Lansdowne shopping area and the Crescent Valley-Anglin Drive area. The area also includes the new north end school and the expansion project at the New Brunswick Museum, Kirchner noted.

"We have some very historic neighbourhoods that have been the backbone of this community and we also have areas that are ripe for greenfield development," she said.

They decided not to include the Millidgeville area in order to control the scope, and said they were also cautious about leaving space for future plans.

Kirchner said the goal of this round of consultation is to get an endorsement on the boundary area and to get terms of reference for an 11-member advisory committee.

The terms of reference would be presented to council May 13th, a request for proposals to bring in consultants to develop the plan would take place that month and the revised boundaries would go to council in June.

"I think that the north end is going to be exploding with population in the next five to 10 years, and we need to prepare for it," Deputy Mayor John MacKenzie, who was made committee chair at a council meeting Monday, told Brunswick News.

"We need to get this plan in place, we need developers concentrating on the north end and getting some developments going for people to live."

Coun. Barry Ogden brought up that the Wright Street, Paradise Row and Rockwood Court area doesn't "see themselves as part of anything," and are "isolated" from walkable options.

"It was once a community, and now .. there are people down there feeling excluded, they are hemmed in by the highway," Ogden said, saying they don't have access to other community centres.

Kirchner said the plan will aim to identify areas that don't fit and either find ways to include them or develop them as "sub-neighbourhoods."

Coun. Brent Harris, who said he now lives in the area, said "hundreds" of vacant lots in the north end represent the "main growth opportunity for the city."

He said if it takes two years to put the plan together, he's "worried" about missed opportunities among current growth in the city. He asked if the plan could be handled in-house to move through faster.

Kirchner responded that there's a "high level" of active development files in the planning department, and said staff had limited ability to handle the plan itself. She said there's information available for developers who want to act now.

The city's new director of community planning and housing, Pankaj Nalavde, who moved to the city from Edmonton, said that bringing in consultants would allow the city to incorporate "the most contemporary knowledge" and ideas in the field.

"They can bring in options, once we hear public feedback, they can say, what have we done somewhere else and try and quickly replicate that?" Nalavde said.

For the committee, Kirchner said they are looking for "people with a vested interest in seeing the north end grow and thrive," including residents, people who work in the area and volunteers. She said they are hoping to avoid high turnover.

Feedback can be submitted at and is open until May 6.

Andrew Bates, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal