Local developer hopes to see more collaboration, co-operation between communities

IMG_8908Hants Journal, Ashley Thompson, July 12, 2011,

When Mitchell Brison built subdivisions in his sandbox as a kid, he didn’t have to worry about dealing with any red tape.

As one would imagine, things changed when the self-made businessman started building subdivisions for a living through Brison Developments Ltd.

Brison, a Falmouth resident born and raised in Cheverie, says he’s been developing land for residential and commercial use in the Municipality of West Hants for about 25 years.

“I’m all about growing this community and bringing people here, creating jobs and having something,” he said, adding that he takes his corporate responsibility seriously.

But, Brison says, he finds it difficult to initiate growth in West Hants as a local developer.

He says the formalities he deals with in West Hants often lead to costly delays that he does not experience when he is managing projects in other areas of the Valley or the HRM.

“If I would have just stayed here and did land development, I would have went bankrupt.”

Brison says he feels the municipality “rolls out the red carpet” for outside developers, while he has to push harder to get approvals for the land-use proposals he brings to the table.

West Hants Warden Richard Dauphinee says the municipality does not play favourites.

“In all honesty, we try to use everybody equal,” he said.

Dauphinee says he has worked with other developers who have undertaken projects in the HRM, or Annapolis Valley, and received positive feedback.

“We’ve had other people come in and say it’s done easier in our municipality than the other ones,” he said.

“So, I guess there are two sides to the story.”

Brison says if things do not change for the better within a year or two, they may change for the worse.

“I will basically stop here and I will continue doing what I’m good at in other areas where there are more people, there is faster growth and I don’t have to put up with these foolish battles.”

Bringing people here

Brison, a licensed land surveyor with his own construction company, says Brison Developments is directly responsible for about 80 jobs in West Hants this summer. He estimates the company generates roughly $1 million worth of business in the municipality per month.

We are in a have-not spot of a have-not province. We cannot afford to make the same mistakes that we continue to make.
Mitchell Brison, developer

As a developer in the business of building communities that will attract homebuyers and renters to the Town of Windsor and Municipality of West Hants, Brison says the two governments must work together to initiate projects that will stimulate growth by selling the area as a whole.

“When people come here they don’t recognize the line between the Municipality of West Hants and the Town of Windsor. They’re coming to the area. They don’t care where the line is,” he said.

“If everybody worked together, we could grow this community.”

Brison says this means pooling resources, cost sharing and focusing on creating incentives that make people want to live in the area.

“We are in a have-not spot of a have-not province. We cannot afford to make the same mistakes that we continue to make,” he said.

“We need amalgamation.”

In spite of the obstacles he has faced, Brison, who is sitting on thousands of acres of undeveloped land in West Hants, has managed to complete several multi-million dollar projects on his home turf, including the Mountain View Subdivision in Falmouth.

An ongoing Brison Developments project dubbed The Crossing, a mini-home park bordering Windsor and Garlands Crossing, is attracting local buyers and people from away.

“It’s hard to bring people here, but we are having some luck… bringing people that are retired,” said Brison, of the land-lease project that has been designed with retirees in mind.

“We don’t have jobs so we have to bring people that commute, or they have a pension.”

About 30 lots have sold in The Crossing to date. Brison estimates the 300-lot project will be worth between $30-40 million when it is completed.

In addition to The Crossing, Brison Developments is working on The Meadows, a subdivision in Falmouth, and Fairfield Park, a retirement community neighbouring the Hants Community Hospital in Windsor.

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