Pas dans ma cour, mais dans la vôtre ? 

Le Nouveau-Brunswick est la seule province ou état en Amérique du Nord où les citoyens qui vivent en dehors des limites reconnues des municipalités ne sont responsables envers aucun gouvernement local élu.  

Plusieurs résidents ruraux pensent que la planification rurale signifie une perte du contrôle de leur propriété et de leur terrain.  Toutefois, le premier rôle de la planification rurale est de reconnaître l'utilisation actuelle des terres et de tenter de les protéger lorsque celles-ci ne sont pas en conflit avec des lois environnementales.

Sans planification rurale, vous ne pouvez pas faire quoi que ce soit sans tenir compte de vos voisins; cependant, cette carence permet aussi à vos voisins de faire tout ce qu'ils veulent sur leur propriété sans tenir compte de vous.

Not in my backyard, 
but okay for
yours?

Neil Gardner
December 2006
 

ou'd rather not have that nuclear waste reprocessing plant across your back yard fence?  Too bad! If you are a rural resident of New Brunswick, with few exceptions, you have no power and your only recourse to prevent it is the minister responsible for local government…and he or she has unlimited discretion to act as he or she sees fit!

New Brunswick is the only province or state in North America that has no responsible elected local government for citizens living outside of recognized municipal boundaries. As a result, there is very little that a citizen can do to influence regional and local planning decisions. 

The Metz Farms controversy in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent brought this gap in representation into sharp focus. In spite of overwhelming opposition from local citizens, the hog factory project went ahead, leading to six years of protest and legal wrangling that ended up costing local residents hundreds of thousands of dollars and the province's taxpayers millions in subsidies (i.e., "expert" assistance and legal help that the government gave to the owners of the "farm"). Finally, after seven years, the project was abandoned and the provincial government initiated a process that was supposed to lead to a regional land use plan and, hopefully, prevent another such disaster.


(photo: Agricultural Research Service Staff)

After a rocky start, during which two planners were appointed and subsequently quit, a company that specializes in regional planning was appointed to lead the project. The company chose a steering committee to (supposedly) give public input into the development of the rural plan. Unfortunately, however, this process seems to have died. According to a source on the steering committee, the planning company came back with a "…cut and paste that looked like it had been lifted from other plans and did not really reflect what the members of the steering committee had envisioned." Apparently, the members of the steering committee were so disgruntled that they didn't even wish to submit the proposal to the public.

A major point of contention on the road to rural planning is the impression among many rural residents that planning will mean loss of control by the property owner over his or her land. You have probably heard the stories of people being prohibited from building garden sheds, needing expensive building permits to install a new window, or being unable to subdivide a lot from their farm for their son or daughter. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Rural planning, as currently practiced in most provinces and states, recognizes first and foremost existing land uses and, where these land uses are not in serious conflict with environmental laws, attempts to protect them. For example, in Ontario, a company constructed a huge mushroom producing facility (they called it a farm - sound familiar?) in a farming area. When local residents, many of whom were farmers, complained and finally took the mushroom "farm" to court, the judge ruled that the mushroom factory was not representative of the local agricultural farm practices and ordered an injunction on the operation. In making his decision, Judge Ferguson emphasized that, had the mushroom factory been constructed in an area where mushroom factories had been traditionally located, he would not have objected. (Cited in Pyke v Tri Grow Enterprises Ltd., 204 D.L.R. (4th) 400.)


(photo: Agricultural Research Service)

In Europe, in particular, planning has existed for many years and I doubt that anyone would wish it away. Around Helsinki, for example, planners have managed to preserve/create an environment that accommodates farmers and rural residents as well as those city dwellers who may just wish to visit the country. Because planners have worked with the local residents and farmers as a team, they have also managed to work ecologically, preserving large tracts of forest and the multitude of small lakes and wet lands in a landscape and climate that is very similar to that of the Maritimes. Even in its primary industries, Finland is similar to the Maritimes; with fishing, logging, minerals, and agriculture all playing important roles. Planning, in both the urban and rural parts of the country, has not only improved the environment, but has led to higher land values for the residents and higher returns for those resources that are exploited and used. Interestingly, the Finnish company, UPM-Kymmene, that owns the mill in Miramichi, admits that the barely controlled rape and pillage practices that they are allowed to use here would be illegal in Finland; yet, even with added regulations affecting both land zoning and production practices in Finland, they have not closed down their operations there.

The only argument against zoning is that its absence allows you to do anything to your property without regard to your neighbours; however, it also allows your neighbours to do anything to their property without regard to you, including things that may make your property unlivable and worthless. 

So, where do you want that nuclear waste reprocessing plant?