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1671 Sandy Point Road, which the city considered rezoning in 2017, is one of four properties that have been declared surplus. Image: File photo

Rockwood Park property shouldn’t be surplus: group

By Brad Perry Mar 19, 2024 | 11:21 AM

Saint John council is facing calls to rescind a motion declaring part of Rockwood Park as surplus land.

As we first reported in February, councillors voted to declare four city-owned properties surplus.

That included 1671 Sandy Point Road, located near Harrigan Lake in Rockwood Park.

“My reaction was absolute shock and dismay,” said Joan Pearce, a spokesperson with Friends of Rockwood Park.

This is not the first time the property on Sandy Point Road has been the target of possible development.

Back in 2008, a proposal came forward that would have seen 160 units built on that piece of property.

Staff recommended in 2011 that residential development be allowed in some areas of Sandy Point Road, including the property in question. However, council voted against the motion and decided to rezone 1671 Sandy Point Road as park zone.

In late 2017, the council at the time considered rezoning the land from park to mid-rise residential. Staff said a 60-unit development on the site could bring in as much as $211,500 in annual tax revenue.

However, Coun. Gary Sullivan later put forward a motion to stop the process, saying there was simply too much public opposition. His motion was passed with a 6-4 vote.

Joan Pearce is the spokesperson for Friends of Rockwood Park. Image: Submitted/Joan Pearce

Pearce said she believes the most recent vote would have had a different outcome if several councillors had not been absent from the meeting.

“They had three councillors who couldn’t vote on it. Two were away, and because the mayor was away, the deputy mayor was the chair and he couldn’t vote,” she said.

Mayor Donna Reardon was absent from the meeting, in addition to councillors Brent Harris and Joanna Killen.

Councillors Gary Sullivan, Paula Radwan and Barry Ogden voted against the motion to declare the property as surplus. Councillors David Hickey, Gerry Lowe, Greg Norton, and Greg Stewart voted in favour.

Pearce also expressed frustration that the public was not made aware of this motion ahead of the council meeting.

A city spokesperson declined to say what will happen to this property and three others now that they have been declared surplus.

“Any additional details pertaining to these properties will be made available when it is appropriate to do so,” the spokesperson said in an email.

A staff report said a recent review of the city’s land assets identified properties that “may be ready for sale for the purpose of re-development.”

“The next thing, mark my words, the next step is going to be they’re going to change the zoning to allow for some sort of a development,” Pearce said of the Rockwood Park property.

Friends of Rockwood Park will present its reasoning for having the motion rescinded at a future growth committee meeting.