The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has denied an appeal from Daybreak Prison Ministry regarding Trenton council’s decision to prohibit dormitories in the Main Street Commercial Zone.
The UARB wrote that council’s decision to amend the land-use bylaw reasonably carried out the intent of the Municipal Planning Strategy.
Trenton amended the bylaw following public outcry in 2013 over Daybreak’s plan to allow Canaan Land Ministries to use a building on Pleasant Street for a Bible training centre.
Concerns were initially raised over the building’s proximity to residences and the suggestion by some that it was a halfway house.
Rumblings increased among citizens when, at a public meeting on Nov. 19, 2013, the intended director of the program Joshua Gober said they wouldn’t accept gay men, or anyone with mental illness.
While the town argued that they could consider the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act in regard to land use, the board said in its decision it wasn’t necessary to determine if they could because the board found council’s decision carries out the intent of the MPS without needing to consider that aspect.
In the decision, the UARB highlights points of the MPS that are relevant to the appeal, including one of their general provisions that states “to ensure that the overall interest of the community, specifically the development of an attractive, safe, healthy, and prosperous community, is a priority when regulating the development, reconstruction, expansion, alteration, maintenance or recommencement of a land use or a structure.”
The town, represented by Gregory MacDonald, argued the board must consider the general provisions, including that one, stating that council is responsible for determining what’s best for Trenton to include in its Main Street Zone.
Daybreak Prison Ministry, represented by Roseanne Skoke, claimed council didn’t carry out the intention of its institutional policy in that dormitories are listed as a possible use.
In response, the town argued their decision didn’t eliminate dormitories from the Institutional Zone, only from the Main Street Commercial Zone.
“It is for the elected council to decide between intersecting guidelines within the policies of the MPS, provided council’s decision reasonably carries out the intent of those policies,” the decision from the UARB reads.
Some arguments from Daybreak were dismissed by the board on the grounds that it was not within their jurisdiction to consider, including question regarding the process, which would be an argument for the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
Daybreak alleged breaches of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms when it filed its notice of appeal on Dec. 23, 2013, but because the proper process wasn’t followed as per the Constitutional Questions Act, this argument was not considered.
Mayor Glen MacKinnon said the town is pleased with the results of the appeal.
“The Town of Trenton believed that this is the result of the citizens of Trenton ultimately wanted,” he said when reached by phone on Thursday. “We’re pleased the board understood our reasons for not allowing that type of institution to set up in our town.”
Daybreak Prison Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.
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