NS: The Villages of Seven Lakes puts conservation first

Nova Scotia land developer and conservationist Gail Penney is speaking with planners from across Canada about why more home buyers want to live in low-impact conservation designed neighbourhoods.

As the largest conservation community in Atlantic Canada, the Villages of Seven Lakes is attracting widespread attention. On July 11, Seven Lakes Developments President Gail Penney and WSP Canada (Halifax) Urban and Rural Planner Jeffry Haggett spoke at the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) Conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

"This is a truly special development in that it's a conservation-designed neighbourhood, meaning 60 per cent of the natural landscape is preserved. Our focus is on developing a complete community in Porters Lake - one that enhances the quality of life for its residents, so we feel strongly about the conference theme which is about ‘People’. This is something we're excited to share with planners from all across Canada," Penney said.

Construction milestones have been met on site in Porters Lake, and the preparation is very different than what would normally occur in typical residential developments. The design incorporates a significant number of low-impact design approaches, which include:

 • The natural habitat and surroundings are conserved to the greatest degree possible

 • Open-space design with sustainable, low-impact homes that leave the majority of the land undisturbed

 • 60% of the natural landscape is protected in common open space - with natural amenities such as trails, lakes and parks

 • Wildlife habitats are protected through the interconnection of natural areas

 • Detailed groundwater monitoring

 • A state-of-the-art sewage treatment facility that treats wastewater and returns it to the ground using a subsurface drop irrigation system to help with groundwater recharge

 • Wetland restoration

 • Standard home design includes provision for solar connections and homes are situated on lots to maximize passive solar energy

 • Energy saving options, including R2000 construction, heat pumps, and rain barrels

 • Homes include low flow plumbing fixtures and waste water heat recovery

 • All other environmentally conscious building techniques are encouraged

 • Low Impact design will be used to reduce storm water run-off by installing rain gardens and bios-swales along with shallower ditches to slow down water and allow it to seep into the ground

 • Giving all homeowners access to the natural landscapes, including access to the lakes

As one example of the extraordinary efforts the team at Seven Lakes is taking to live the values of conservation, engineering consultants went to great lengths to minimize the amount of material that had to be trucked into or out of the site for the road building process. Typically all grubbing material is trucked offsite for disposal. At Seven Lakes, that is 3,438 truckloads of material that were kept onsite and used to repair scars in the natural landscape left after years of forestry operations and will be used for the landscaping throughout the development. All rock required for the construction of all roads within Phase One of Seven Lakes has been generated onsite. The amount of rock is impressive. Penney said the team crushed more than 6,022 truckloads of rock that did not get trucked in, did not travel on the existing Alps road and did not cause wear on public streets. In addition, we are stockpiling approximately 3,125 truckloads of rock for use in future phases.

In partnership with the Atlantic Planners Institute (API), the conference welcomes planners, municipal government representatives, health and other professionals from across Canada to explore how the work of planners has the potential to positively impact health by influencing how people live, work, eat and play. This year's theme, People Matter, is a call to action for planners to place more emphasis on the physical, social, environmental, health and economic elements of communities to enhance quality of life for residents.

For more information on the CIP Conference, visit: http://cip-2014.inscriptweb.ca/