Two multi-unit residential buildings, containing up to 56 units, are proposed for 236 Water St. in Yarmouth
Giving thanks for community | SaltWire
YARMOUTH, NS – There are mixed views on mixed uses for a part of Yarmouth’s waterfront that has been eyed by a developer for residential housing.
No one is against the idea of additional housing in the town, but at a public participation meeting some questioned if the site is the appropriate location since it would put residential housing within an industrial area.
Mirza Holdings Incorporated has approached the town seeking to build two multi-unit buildings on Water Street that combined would have up to a maximum of 56 residential units.
The location is 236 Water St., on property that became vacant in 2017 when a section of the former Domtex cotton mill building was demolished due to its deteriorating condition.
The residential buildings would be built in two phases, likely years apart. Phase 1 proposes a four-story building off Water Street that would contain 24 units. Five units would be maintained as affordable units.

Phase 2 would be located behind Phase 1, adjacent to the waterfront, and include, potentially, a three or four-story building, containing up to 32 units.

PAC documentation says the proposed development will include 57 to 59 parking spaces, bicycle parking and greenspace with seating and gardens. Details of the residential development are still in the preliminary phases of negotiations.
The developer has applied for a development agreement.
The application is at the town’s Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) stage.
A public participation meeting on Oct. 3 collected input and feedback.

Some who spoke are involved in industrial operations that are located alongside and across the street from the proposed site.
Robert Cunningham, manager for Warp Tech Canada, says their company, which has been on the waterfront for decades, conducts its business 24 hours a day.
“We are in the industrial part of town, that’s what we do,” he said, noting it’s not unusual to see trucks jutting onto Water Street when unloading occurs. Increased traffic, therefore, is a concern.
Exhaust from the building’s machinery is directed over Water Street, so as not to bother others. The machinery is noisy too.
The business is concerned that having so many residential units close by could raise potential issues if concerns and complaints are raised by residents over their industrial operation.
“We don’t want to seem like we’re against … housing,” he said. “We’re not sure if it’s the best fit.”

Novatec Braids, which neighbours the lot, and is planning an expansion, is also concerned about surrounding residential with industrial.

Francis Doucet, a civil engineer with the Novatec, raised concerns over things associated with the proposed residential project such as height requirements, lot elevations, water and septic, etc.
Doucet said there are things the project developer has proposed that Novatec has been told they are not allowed to do as part of their expansion.
It was later explained during the meeting that Mirza is applying for a development agreement, which allows for variances specific to a project or location – such as height restrictions.
The town says Novatec has not applied specifically for a development agreement, but if it does there are variances that could be considered for them too.
Neal Prescott is the managing director of Novatec Braids, which contributes about $30 million to the local economy.
“We came to Yarmouth in 1991 because there was the availability of industrial space,” he said. “I’d hate to see what little industrial space is available in the town turned into residential.”

Prescott noted Novatec runs three shifts daily, has machinery that makes noise, and there’s truck traffic coming and going. He said the message Novatec receives from the idea of turning part of this area into residential is “you don’t want Novatec to keep expanding in that area.”

“We’d hate to see us being held in by residential, which probably will be uncomfortable for the residents, with the trucks coming and going,” Prescott said. “It’s not a place that seems to us to put residential housing, surrounded by factories.”
Town resident Martha Cassidy also questioned the location’s suitability.
“People’s homes and industry don’t mix,” she said, suggesting there are other areas in the town that would be a better fit for residential housing, such as the site of the former Yarmouth high school or vacant land on Kempt Street near the golf course.
She noted a portion of north Water Street often floods in heavy rains and said wind from the harbour can create bitter cold. Plus it’s a truck route.
“I think this is not the right plan or the right place,” she said.

Yarmouth’s Novatec Braids tied to success with rope products exported around the world
‘Nowhere to go’: A look at the need for more housing & affordable options in Yarmouth and elsewhere
It’s not unusual on social media to see people – both locals and people moving into the town –sharing posts that they cannot find places to live.
G. Brar, a mortgage broker in the town, disagrees that housing should not be located at this Water Street location. She said there is a housing crisis in the town, the impacts of which she sees daily.
“We need more housing. I support anybody that wants to bring housing development here because we are in a housing crisis,” she said.
She said there are many examples in the province and the country where residential and industrial are mixed together. She said this proposed waterfront, downtown, spacious location is appealing and close to amenities. Regarding concerns about noise and traffic, she said in a town the size of Yarmouth you’re bound to have those issues no matter where residences are located.
“I do understand the businesses’ concerns here, but I think the housing crisis outweighs that,” Brar said. “I believe that any development here in our area, wherever it might be, is going to benefit all of us.”

Nick Cottreau spoke on behalf of the developer. He said to alleviate noise concerns the units would be built with extra noise reduction and soundproofing. He said yes, the proposed development is above the town’s height requirement, but they have requested a variation in their development agreement application – so it is something they are seeking permission for.

He noted flooding that occurs on Water Street is further north than where this project is proposed. Addressing a concern raised about whether the site can support the weight of the project, he said that would definitely be addressed during the construction to ensure there are no issues. They have the expertise and experience to ensure this, he said.

This application has not yet come before town council for discussion. The input raised at the public participation meeting will go back to the PAC for further discussion, with a final report completed on Nov. 7.
First reading of the application will come to town council on Nov. 16. A future public hearing is part of the application process.
Members of the PAC did not discuss the application during the public participation meeting. That discussion will occur at the next PAC meeting.
But there was some brief discussion later on about other housing initiatives in the town.
One involves an application the town approved last fall by the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia to construct a 24-unit affordable housing complex on vacant town-owned land on Shaw Avenue. That project is still a go.

Years ago, there had been an announcement about turning the former Yarmouth high school on Parade Street into a multi-unit residential facility, that would include affordable housing units. However, the developer has since backed out due to higher construction costs.

“That’s a development and cost issue. You can’t ask somebody to come in at one price and then the price increases by 300 per cent and expect them to still do that,” said Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood. But she said the town isn’t giving up on a developer giving the building a chance. “The high school is still there. It’s still on the table for us. It’s still important to us.”

Special Report