A controversial rezoning that would have allowed residential and commercial development on farmland in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley has been shot down by the province.
Agriculture Minister John MacDonell, in his other role as minister of municipal relations and government services, announced his decision Wednesday after putting Kings County’s February rezoning application under ministerial review early last week.
Kings County had applied last month to have just under 380 acres of land between Greenwich and Wolfville rezoned from agricultural to residential and commercial. Changes to a Nova Scotia municipality’s planning documents require a provincial review under the Municipal Government Act.
But the county “did not demonstrate the need for the additional land,” the province said Wednesday in rejecting the application.
“While I am satisfied by the municipality’s explanation that they would do all that was necessary to protect the Town of Wolfville’s drinking water supply, there was no demonstrated pressing need for development of this protected agricultural land,” MacDonell said in a release.
Kings County’s rezoning plans last month had also come under fire in recent weeks from a community group dubbed No Farms No Food, contending there is “an abundance” of other appropriately zoned land already available in the region for development.
The group also claimed the rezoning would have ruined wildlife habitat and agri-tourism areas and would specifically block nearby farmers from keeping bees on their property.
While much of the land in question is owned by local farmers favouring its non-agricultural development, the No Farms No Food group also said the proposal would involve expropriating some ag land from a farm wanting to maintain its current zoning.
The province noted Wednesday it maintains a “Statement of Provincial Interest” concerning agricultural land, requiring municipalities to preserve valuable farmland “where reasonable.”
The province noted that last year, for example, it allowed about 60 acres of farmland at nearby Port Williams to be rezoned for development.