III. Walkable urban places — Environmental benefits

Concern for the environment may be one of the earliest and most straightforward drivers for increased walking and active mobility.

From climate change to air pollution, loss of biodiversity to green infrastructure, walking provides an active means for people to mitigate and address local and global environmental concerns.1

“The recovery of sprawl to vibrant places is literally our generation’s greatest challenge.”

Steve Mouzon, Architect and New Urbanist

Robert Steuteville, editor of Public Square (a CNU Journal), has been publishing a series of articles based on the 2016 Cities Alive: Towards a walking world report, which shows the benefits of walkable cities – social, economic, environmental and political – and sets out measures for improving walkability.

This post itemizes the list from Steuteville’s article (link embedded in heading below), and includes additional details from the report.

Ten environmental benefits of walkable places

  1. Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
    Fewer cars, fewer emissions.
  2. Improves urban microclimates
    The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, where denser urban areas are significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas, is a major issue facing cities today. Increased urban vegetation and mature tree canopies contribute to the mitigation of the urban heat island effect by reducing the air temperature and provide pleasant strolling temperatures.
  3. Optimises land use
    Soil is not a renewable resource and is essential to nurture plants and animals. In addition, it is vulnerable to impacts from vehicular traffic, industry and construction. Walkability improvements can help reduce the amount of land required for transport facilities (roads and parking), encouraging denser land use patterns.
  4. Reduces air pollution
    When walkable environments incorporate more trees and vegetation, they will inherently clean the air: 17 trees can absorb enough CO2 annually to offest nearly 42,000 km of driving.
  5. Improves water management
    Reallocating investment from motor vehicle infrastructure into parks and pedestrian environments improves the overall health of city ecosystems and help divert millions of litres of stormwater runoff.
  6. Promotes alternative transportation
    Public transit users are pedestrians or a combination of pedestrian/cyclist. Purposeful investment in walking and active transportation networks encourages increased pedestrian and cycling activity.
  7. Makes cities more beautiful
    Streets that offer a robust, attractive experience can accommodate a variety of diverse uses such as outdoor dining, seating and gathering areas. Additionally, beautification through landscaping, public art, and wayfinding becomes an important feature.
  8. Increases active use of space
    Pedestrian improvements can provide people with more pleasant spaces to stay, and lead to an increase in the active use of public space and the facilities it contains, such as benches, playgrounds, water bubblers, public gyms and skate areas.
  9. Cuts ambient noise
    Plant leaves have been shown to tone down noise by reflecting, diverting and absorbing acoustic energy. Trees with abundant foliage are especially effective at minimizing noise levels.
  10. It makes better use of space
    Street designs that restructure the street network better serve pedestrians and cyclists, often repurposing space reclaimed from vehicle travel lanes and on-street parking to accommodate cycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

“The pedestrian is an extremely fragile species, the canary in the coal mine of urban livability.”

Smart Growth America, nationwide coalition promoting a better way to growth

1 Excerpts from Cities Alive: Towards a walking world, a report published by Arup in 2016.


More on this topic:

Sherwood Crossing: City in breach of planning and decision-making processes

Author: Doug MacArthur

On Wednesday of this week, we [signed off by Doug MacArthur] filed a request with the City that it Reconsider its August 26, 2021, decision to approve site and foundation construction permits for the proposed townhouses on Towers Road re Killam’s/APM’s Sherwood Crossing project. Also on Wednesday we filed an IRAC Appeal in the same matter.

Our filings make the case that proper process is not being followed. In our view, it is not appropriate for permits to be issued and construction to proceed on a project which has not yet even had its rezoning approved. That rezoning is presently the subject of another party’s IRAC appeal begun early in 2021.

In our view, it is not appropriate for permits to be issued and construction to proceed on a project which has not yet even had its rezoning approved.

Doug MacArthur

Additionally, the August 26 City Council permit approval meeting, both in public and in closed session, was chaired by Mayor Philip Brown, who we believe should have declared a conflict of interest, excused himself, and should have avoided any involvement in the discussions or decisions relating to the August 26 City Council approval. We believe the August 26 permit approval process was tainted.

We also have other issues with the exaggerated relevance being attached to the Sherwood Crossing development agreement between the City and the developer. We believe there have been other process violations, not to mention APM/Killam proceeding for a considerable time with construction this summer at Sherwood Crossing without a permit, and receiving no sanctions for doing so.

We believe there have been other process violations, not to mention APM/Killam proceeding for a considerable time with construction this summer at Sherwood Crossing without a permit and receiving no sanctions for doing so.

Doug MacArthur

There is a well-established and defined approval process to be followed for new Charlottetown development projects. In some cases, particularly Sherwood Crossing, that process has not been respected or followed. It needs to be followed if citizens are to have confidence in City Hall decision-making and in our municipal checks and balances. So, the purpose in our Wednesday filings is to help restore proper and proven processes to City Hall decision-making. We are not necessarily against a development at Sherwood Crossing, but we want any development to respect proper process, not engage in unacceptable tactics that do a disservice to our community.

The next steps in our filings will be for City Hall to consider our Reconsideration request while our IRAC Appeal is held in abeyance. If our Reconsideration request is rejected, then the IRAC appeal will proceed. There may also be some other related filings along the way.

This post will likely draw the ire of the usual small handful of vested interests, contrarians, and wild-west advocates, and that comes with the territory. However, we wish to express our appreciation to the thousands of Charlottetown and PEI citizens who support our posts, week in and week out. Our most recent post re potential Mayor Brown conflict of interest has been viewed by over 10,000 people, liked by almost 200 people, commented on by more than 125 people and shared by more than 80 people, for a total of almost 400 people who took the time to express their views and concerns. That is phenomenal support, it is what public participation is all about, and it is very much appreciated. It is testament to the thousands of citizens who want a future of Charlottetown in which we can have great pride and confidence.

Author: Doug MacArthur
Published Thursday, 16 September 2021, on Future of Charlottetown Facebook page

Is Mayor Brown in an ongoing conflict of interest? The public needs answers. 

Author: Doug MacArthur

Following is a summary of pertinent facts to consider re Mayor Philip Brown and his possible conflict of interest re APM et al. In addition to being mayor of Charlottetown, Mayor Philip Brown works with his family business [EB Brown Transport and Crane Services Inc and Atlantic Hy-Span Ltd] as a business accountant and public relations officer and director. His family business is a member of the Construction Association of PEI with Philip Brown listed as the EB Brown contact person.

Since becoming mayor, his family business has provided crane services to Tim Banks/APM on a number of projects, including the Blackbush Tracadie project in 2020 and APM projects in the city. When questioned on this, Tim Banks recently told CBC News “..the mayor’s crane shows up on our job sites, what are we supposed to do, wait until we can get one from the Irvings? It’s just doing business on a small island.” It should be noted that there are other PEI crane services providers besides EB Brown.

Despite his private business interests, Mayor Brown has not excused himself from City Hall development/planning/permit deliberations/decisions involving Tim Banks and/or APM and related companies. In fact, Mayor Brown has presided at various such City Council meetings, most recently in the City Council decision in late August to approve a footings permit for Killam/APM’s Sherwood Crossing project after other City officials had issued a Cease Construction Order to APM. Mayor Brown also vigorously contended that the 15 Haviland Killam/APM-proposed waterfront high-rise should be granted “as of right” without an opportunity for Council or public input. The 15 Haviland project does not even remotely qualify for “as of right” (without the need for additional approvals or amendments). He also contends that he doesn’t vote as mayor unless there is a tie. But he doesn’t mention that he sits and participates on every Council committee, including Planning Board, and has voting rights on all of them.

At an August 9th, 2021, Regular Monthly meeting of City Council, a councillor asked City Solicitor David Hooley what happens if a Council member has a conflict of interest and doesn’t declare it? What are the consequences? David Hooley replied that the consequences for a member who doesn’t declare a conflict of interest are serious, based on PEI’s Municipal Government Act. Mr Hooley noted that the consequences are also serious for the organization [i.e. City Council] because the person not declaring the conflict may taint the whole organization and require that the whole project approval process go back to Council again. This opinion by Mr Hooley should be a concern relating to Sherwood Crossing, and possibly other APM developments in which Mayor Brown has participated.

The Municipal Government Act (Section 96) is very clear.
(1) A council member is in a conflict of interest if, in relation to a matter under consideration by the council, the member or a person closely connected to the member
(a) has any pecuniary interest; ….
(2) A council member is in a conflict of interest if the member makes a decision or participates in making a decision in the execution of his or her office while at the same time the member knows or ought reasonably to know that the member’s private interests or the private interests of a person closely connected to the member affected the member’s impartiality in the making of the decision….
(3) A council member who is in a conflict of interest as described in subsection (1) or (2) shall
(a) declare the member’s interest in the matter before the council;
(b) remove himself or herself from the council meeting and any other meeting when the matter is discussed;
(c) abstain from the discussion and voting on the matter; and
(d) not attempt in any way, before, during or after a meeting, to influence the discussion or voting on any question, decision, recommendation or other action to be taken involving a matter in which the member has a conflict of interest.
(4) Subject to subsection (6), a member who fails to comply with clauses (3)(a) to (c) or who contravenes clause (3)(d) is disqualified from serving on council.”

Finally, although Future of Charlottetown has issues with Councillor Greg Rivard being the official real estate agent for Killam/APM’s Sherwood Crossing project, Councillor Rivard, to his credit, was quoted in a CBC interview last week as saying “I’ve stepped out of the room on any conversation because I’m in conflict,” he says. “Any discussion with regards to anything related to the developer, Tim Banks, any project that he comes forward with, I’m in conflict.”

Why shouldn’t Mayor Philip Brown have followed the same course and what, if anything, are the consequences for not doing so? Also, what are the City Solicitor’s responsibilities to advise City Council re this potentially serious conflict on the Mayor’s part and to protect the public interest, and what are the responsibilities of councillors in this matter? And what of the Province’s oversight role? The public needs answers.

Author: Doug MacArthur
Published Wednesday, 8 September 2021, on Future of Charlottetown Facebook page

What is permeable, pervious, or porous pavement?

Permeable, pervious or porous surfaces are types of pavement with a high porosity that allow rainwater to pass through into the ground below.

Permeable paving can be one part of building green parking lots, which can also include rain gardens, art, trees, solar covers, and other creative elements.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, permeable pavements can also help reduce flooding of building foundations and ponding of water on driveways, sidewalks and patios.

Ontario-based Random Acts of Green, a women-led social enterprise, recently published a blog post entitled “6 Ways Permeable Pavement Benefits the Earth”.


More on this topic:

Are Pervious, Permeable, and Porous Pavers Really the Same?

Excellent video (includes paid promotion) that explains and shows examples of how permeable pavement works (ends at 8:32)

II. Walkable urban places — Economic benefits

Walkable environments are not just healthier, but also wealthier. Research has shown positive correlations between improved walkability, raised local retail spend, enhanced value of local services and goods, and the creation of more job opportunities.1

“The economic value of walking has been described as the walking economy. There is a direct link between the city’s economic prosperity and the safety and convenience of the pedestrian experience.”

City of Melbourne, 2012

Robert Steuteville, editor of Public Square (a CNU Journal), has been publishing a series of articles based on the 2016 Cities Alive: Towards a walking world report, which shows the benefits of walkable cities – social, economic, environmental and political – and sets out measures for improving walkability.

This post itemizes the list from Steuteville’s article (link embedded in heading below), and includes additional details from the report.

Ten economic benefits of walkable places

  1. Boosts prosperity
    Investing in better streets and spaces for walking can provide a competitive return compared to other transport projects. Cycling and walking are estimated to provide up to $11.80 return of investment per $1 invested.
  2. Supports local business
    Clustering and proximity are critical to the success of commercial districts. While car dependency determined the rise of suburban malls, with associated issues such as ‘food deserts’, a dense and walkable urban network may facilitate the spread of small local shops and street markets, able to increase variety of goods and services, independent retailing, local employment and start-up opportunities.
  3. Enhances creative thinking and productivity
    According to studies, exercise improves the ability to make decisions and organise thoughts. And walking boosts creative inspiration.
  4. Enhances a city’s identity
    Investing in walking may contribute to a city’s efforts to transform its profile and create opportunities to shape the liveability, amenities and culture in the city.
  5. Promotes tourism
    For tourists, walking is the best way to experience a city since it increases the ‘imageability’ of a place – the quality that makes it recognisable and memorable.
  6. Encourages investments in cities and towns
    As cities continue to compete with each other to attract capital, walking may be a successful tool for the promotion of a city’s prosperity, making it attractive to private investments and providing economic benefits to the community.
  7. Attracts the “creative class”
  8. Increases land and property values
    Since young generations prefer living in walkable urban cores, a city’s walkability is predicted to be one of the main factors driving real estate values for many years to come.
  9. Activates street façades
    Promoting walking contributes to the vibrancy of the streetscape. The creation of a walkable environment, therefore, is a fundamental incentive to reduce vacancies and to promote the creation of thriving active street frontages.
  10. Reduces motor vehicle and road costs
    Walking is a free mode of transport. Creating more walkable environments — together with investment in public transport — can reduce congestion and maintenance costs and provide long-term transport solutions.

In a quality city, a person should be able to live their entire life without a car, and not feel deprived.

Paul Bedford, former City of Toronto Planning Director

1 Excerpts from Cities Alive: Towards a walking world, a report published by Arup in 2016.


Read more:

Walking is economic growth (by Tristan Cleveland) — You know walking is good for your physical health, and even your emotional wellbeing. But did you know it’s critical for the fiscal health of your city too?

The Economics of Walking (by Melissa Bruntlett) — This simple mode of travel could be the easy solution cities need to maintain and even bolster their economy.

Car Blindness (by Alex Dyer)— Ignoring the true cost of cars (and vision for the future)

I. Walkable urban places — Social benefits

Walking is our first mean of transport: every trip begins and ends with walking. Consequently, walkability is an extremely fascinating, evocative and inclusive concept. It goes beyond the good design of sidewalks and street-crossings which guarantee the ‘ability to walk’ for citizens. It expresses a multifaceted measure of how friendly an area is to walking, taking into consideration a complex and diversified set of features in its evaluation.

Robert Steuteville, editor of Public Square: A CNU Journal, has been publishing a series of articles based on the 2016 Cities Alive: Towards a walking world report [166 pages], which shows the benefits of walkable cities – economic, social, environmental and political – and sets out measures for improving walkability.

This post lists the benefits from Steuteville’s article (link embedded in heading below), but includes additional details from the report.

Ten social benefits of walking

  1. Promotes active living, for longer and better lives
    Walkability increases the accessibility of public space for people with different mobility levels and backgrounds, providing the chance to diversify and enrich street life and to create an attractive environment for people of all ages.
  2. Improves happiness and mental health
    Walking improves our mood. It reduces the risk of stress, anxiety and depression, positively affecting people’s mental health and happiness.
  3. Reduces obesity and chronic disease
  4. Fosters social interaction
    Redesigning the urban environment to encourage walking ability brings back people in the streets and increases activities in public space, dramatically improving the perception of safety and individual confidence.
  5. Saves lives on the street
    The increasing demands for safer streets in cities raise the urgency to prioritise pedestrian safety measures and to increase walkability levels.
  6. Tends to reduce crime
  7. Enhances “sense of place” and community identity
    Walking provides a great opportunity for people to experience cities at the human scale.
  8. Broadens universal accessibility and encourages inclusiveness
    Everyone is a pedestrian. Even those who usually drive, ride a bike, or commute by public transport, at some point of the day will change his or her mode and cross a street. Improving walkability and focusing the street design to less mobile citizens’ needs can unlock the city to everyone, increasing the street attractiveness and accessibility.
  9. Supports cultural initiatives
    Art that can best be enjoyed while on foot brings a local feel to an area, increasing the cultural vibrancy of the street life and the attractiveness for pedestrians.
  10. Promotes a vibrant urban experience
    Walkable streets shape the environment for a more active – and consquently most attractive – use of public realm.

“Restore human legs as a means of travel.
Pedestrians rely on food for fuel and need no special parking facilities.”

Lewis Mumford (1895–1990), American sociologist

Excerpts from Cities Alive: Towards a walking world, a report published by Arup in 2016.


Read more:

Canada Walks – a leader in Canada’s walking movement – has a Municipal Action page.

Pedestrians First is an organization that promotes walkability and all its benefits (under Why measure walkability?)

SHERWOOD CROSSING – When Checks and Balances Don’t Work

by Doug MacArthur
published Friday, August 27, 2021, on Future of Charlottetown

Checks and balances are defined as “various procedures set in place to reduce mistakes, prevent improper behaviour, or decrease the risk of centralization of power”. They are not working in the case of Killam/APM’s Sherwood Crossing project approval process.

On January 4, 2021, an IRAC appeal was launched against the City’s decision to rezone the Sherwood Crossing lands to enable Killam/APM to build a large project on the site. That appeal is still before IRAC, with City Hall on August 6, 2021, filing its most recent information with IRAC in response to questionable testimony given by the City’s Planning Department official who has handled the file, and by Tim Banks, as well as questions about when the Development Agreement between City Hall was actually signed off by the City [Mayor Philip Brown and CAO Peter Kelly] and by the Developer [Tim Banks]. The Development Agreement is dated April 15, 2021, but appears not to be signed off until June, 2021. All of this information and more can be found on the IRAC website, and it is well worth reading.

The point is that it may be some time before IRAC decides on the Sherwood Crossing rezoning appeal, so the site does not now have final approval for development. Yet Mayor Brown and Peter Kelly on behalf of the City entered into a Development Agreement in June 2021, re Sherwood Crossing while knowing full well that the property rezoning has been under IRAC appeal since January. There is also no clause in the City/Sherwood Crossing Development Agreement [see IRAC website] which specifically makes the Development Agreement conditional on a favourable decision by IRAC re the rezoning. Yet, it is common and proper practice to do so. For example, Nova Scotia municipal regulations require “that a development agreement shall not be entered into until all appeals have been abandoned or disposed of”.

And how has Tim Banks/APM responded since he has had the Development Agreement in place? He has publicly regarded it as a commitment by City Hall to enable him to begin construction, and APM in fact recently undertook substantial construction work at the Sherwood Crossing site, before having a Cease Construction order issued by City Hall last week after this writer [Doug MacArthur ] filed a complaint. Under Govt of PEI regulations, “In almost all instances both a Development Permit AND a Building Permit will be required before construction can begin on a project”. Tim Banks/APM had neither for the Sherwood Crossing project.

After City Hall issued the Sherwood Crossing Cease Construction order, Tim Banks threatened to take legal action against City Hall. And, instead of the City standing its ground., it held a closed session of City Council this week, after which, Mayor Philip Brown presiding, there was a City Council vote taken to issue APM a foundation permit, enabling Sherwood Crossing construction work to resume. 

A Development Agreement is NOT a Development Permit, but City Hall seems to be treating it as one. If a Sherwood Crossing Development Agreement gives APM the right to begin construction there, then what’s to stop Mr Banks/APM/Killam and City Hall doing the same thing at 15 Haviland where they have had a Development Agreement for their proposed 99-unit, 10-storey structure since January of 2020? More on all this in upcoming posts.

Bottom line is that the development checks and balances aren’t working in Charlottetown. Many citizens have lost trust in our mayor and most councillors to represent our interests. Often we either don’t know what’s going on at City Hall, or we’re fed the pablum version of transparency, such as the current Chair of Planning’s [Terry MacLeod] version of next steps in the Sherwood Crossing saga. 

The Province obviously wants nothing to do with any of this, even though it has a clear oversight responsibility which it is not fulfilling. If it won’t stand up for the citizens of our city, it should at least support IRAC. How can the Province expect IRAC to make a fair decision, without pressure, on the current Sherwood Crossing rezoning IRAC appeal when construction of a $95 million project is already underway and when City Hall has not protected itself in the terms of the Development Agreement that Mayor Brown and Peter Kelly signed? Because City Hall and Govt of PEI checks and balances on development don’t work, the citizens of Charlottetown are left holding the bag, and paying the possible lawsuits to follow.


Time for the Province to step up re Charlottetown City Council mayhem

by Doug MacArthur
published Friday, August 20, 2021, on Future of Charlottetown social media

This Future of Charlottetown Facebook page was created one year ago, primarily to bring attention to major municipal issues in which the Mayor Philip Brown administration, for whatever reasons, has not been properly representing the interests of the citizens of Charlottetown. The situation continues to deteriorate to the point where it seems that this City administration either doesn’t understand its responsibilities to the public, or it doesn’t give a damn about those responsibilities. It is past time for the Government of PEI to exercise its oversight responsibilities.

We have posted on questionable City Hall development approval processes, [eg Killam/APM 15 Haviland and Sherwood Crossing projects]; potential conflicts of interest, including Councillor Greg Rivard, or maybe the mayor himself through his construction business [see recent Charlottetown work site photos here]; questionable tendering processes [eg fire station architectural bids]; lack of by-law enforcement related to favoured businesses; misleading reports to the public; far too many closed-door Council meetings; and on and on. 

We have also asked many questions of the Mayor, usually without receiving authentic, informative answers. Meanwhile, almost every neighbourhood of our city has had to mobilize to reverse inappropriate City Hall decisions [eg Simmons rink and pool, Trainor Street], or to file IRAC appeals. It has to stop.

Our November 3, 2020, Facebook post reported on a public inquiry final report released the previous day on conflicts, etc., involving the municipal government in Collingwood, Ontario. Following is a CBC excerpt related to the conclusions: “Unfair bidding practices, unfair procurement practices, conflicts of interest, inaccurate and misleading town council reports, the misuse and inappropriate disclosure of the town’s confidential information”, was how (Judge Frank) Marrocco described his findings Monday at a news conference releasing his 914-page report. “In other words, behaviours that, left unaddressed, undermines the foundational core and reputation of a municipal government.”

These same issues are rampant in the Mayor Brown administration. The Government of Ontario acted to launch the Collingwood public inquiry. Surely, the PEI Government has a similar responsibility in the current situation in which the Brown administration is clearly not acting in the public interest on many fronts. Although the Government of PEI should not require even more public outcry in order to act, a citizens’ petition delivered on Rochford Square may need to be the next steps to correct this unacceptable and deteriorating City of Charlottetown situation.

Sherwood Crossing update: Last week, we filed a complaint with City Hall re Killam/APM construction proceeding without permit approval. Finally, this week City Hall advised me [Doug MacArthur] that a Cease Construction order was issued by the City to APM. Thank you to all who brought this major, unauthorized construction to our attention.

View from Towers Road (August 13, 2021)

Removing the shackles of parking minimums

What are Minimum Parking Requirements?

Parking minimums are local laws that require private businesses and residences to provide at least a certain number of off-street parking spaces. Minimum parking requirements hinder the potential of cities such as Charlottetown by filling them with unproductive, empty parking spaces that don’t add value to our places.

History

The first minimum parking requirement was established in 1923 in Columbus, Ohio. By the 1950s, parking minimums had grown to become a staple of North American urban planning—a catalyst for how the automobile was to define North America and the shape of its cities.

In recent years, transportation planners have been pointing out that parking minimums increase the distance between destinations, making cities and towns less walkable, thereby perpetuating a cycle of less viable transit and mobility options, the need for more driving, and—subsequently—even more parking.

The social, economic, and environmental costs

According to Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA Donald Shoup, parking requirements increase traffic congestion, pollute the air, encourage sprawl, raise housing costs, degrade urban design, prevent walkability, damage the economy, and penalize everyone who cannot afford a car. Despite all the harm off-street parking requirements cause, they remain almost an established religion in zoning practice.

The benefits of eliminating parking minimums

By removing the shackles of mandated parking, cities and towns can lower business costs, reduce sprawl and make transit safer and more convenient for everyone. It’s time to stop prioritizing parking over people, writes Mac Dressman, a Transform Transportation associate with the US-based PIRG (Public Interest Research Group).

Daniel Herriges, an urban and regional planner, proposes a “press one key” solution [customised by author] to reforming parking policy:

  • Open the cityʼs zoning code.
  • Go to Section 44 (General Provisions for Parking)
  • Swipe over the whole parking section with your mouse and highlight it.
  • Hit the delete button.

A Canadian first

In July 2020, Edmonton became the first major Canadian city to eliminate off-street parking minimums citywide.

“This policy removes barriers for new homes and for businesses, and
improves choice and flexibility in how businesses and homeowners
meet their future parking needs.”

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson

A Canadian second

In an effort to provide more flexibility for businesses when it comes to parking, Calgary City Council voted in November 2020 to allow some businesses to avoid commercial parking requirements. The decision was approved, according to the Cityʼs Web site, which states that
This change:

  • Allows businesses and developers to advise how much parking makes sense for their development
  • Decreases indirect parking costs that would be passed onto consumers, businesses and tenants
  • Creates an urban form that encourages walking, cycling and transit
  • Enables spaces to be designed for people rather than for vehicles
  • Encourages more active modes of transportation over driving

A Herculean task?

Getting rid of parking minimum requirements can be surprisingly challenging. In this truly inspiring one-hour webcast (it also involves housing), you’ll learn from a team of advocates and local leaders who successfully accomplished this feat in their city of Edmonton, Alberta.

Call to action

If you believe the City should review its minimum parking requirements, write to your councillor (see Links at right), using any of the reasons listed above, or in the articles below [some are repeats of hyperlinks in this post].


Related articles:

Charlottetown’s Natural Assets Inventory

From the City’s Web site:

The City has worked with the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI) to create a Natural Asset InventoryThe Inventory was developed to better understand where our natural assets are and what condition they are in. Knowing this will allow the City to make more informed policy and planning decisions; this initial inventory is a first step towards natural asset management. Along with the inventory dashboard, MNAI also prepared a report summarizing the results of the inventory and the associated implications. Click here to view this report. 

From the MNAI report:

Annex: Results of Charlottetown’s risk identification

This Annex contains the results of Charlottetown’s use of MNAI’s risk identification tool, which they self-administered with guidance from MNAI. Table 1 was the main product, developed by Charlottetown personnel, that resulted from the exercise.

Common Risks to Natural Assets:

  • Overuse of trails/dumping
  • Flooding (current and future)
  • Forest fire
  • Invasive species
  • Development pressure
  • Pollutant loading from urban, agricultural, or industrial sources (e.g., overuse of salt on roads)
  • Drought (current and future)
  • Erosion
  • Ice jams
  • Storm surge
  • Lack of flood hazard mapping
  • Lack of land management plans
  • Lack of monitoring reports
  • Construction activity
  • Political policy change

Risk Assessment and Implications

Charlottetown’s ecological risks have been assessed in order to maximize the efficiency of managing the municipal natural assets. Each risk is prioritized based on the likelihood of occurrence and impact severity, which both are ranked from low (L), medium (M), and high (H) – as seen in the ‘Risk Matrix’ below. Identifying such risks can help prevent and plan for any loss of Charlottetown’s natural assets. 


Click here to learn more about the MNAI and its mission.

Completing Charlottetown’s sidewalk network

Scott Adams, the City’s Public Works Manager, made a proposal for a Sidewalk Master Plan during the Public Works Committee Meeting on Thursday, July 22 (agenda/video).

Currently, the city of Charlottetown has 147 kilometres of sidewalks. To complete the network, the Public Works department identified existing streets that either have a fair amount of traffic and no sidewalks, or are major collector roads that have a sidewalk on one side only, such as certain sections of University Avenue. At the end of the exercise, it was determined that an additional 156 kilometres of sidewalk or multi-use pathway would need to be constructed. In today’s dollars, constructing one metre of sidewalk costs approximately $350 per metre, or $350,000 per kilometre. The cost to build 156 km of sidewalk would be around $55 million.

How much does is cost to build one kilometre of new road? Roughly three million dollars ($3,000,000).
How many kilometres of road would $55 million build? Eighteen (18) kilometres.
To put that in perspective: 
18 km = Belvedere Golf Club to Brackley Beach  
156 km = Charlottetown to North Cape

Mr Adamsʼs reasons for proposing the development of a Sidewalk Master Plan include the ability on a yearly basis to allocate a portion of the cost in the budget to build, progressively, new sidewalks/multi-use paths, and to respond to residentsʼ enquiries about which roads will have new sidewalks and when.

All in all, an admirable proposal.

In seeking support from the committee, Mr Adams said that other municipalities have such a master plan. An online search found three Canadian municipalities with a Sidewalk (or Pedestrian) Master Plan: District of North Vancouver, BC (2009), Summerland, BC (2019), and Mississauga, ON (2021).

First to comment: CAO Peter Kelly, who didn’t hesitate to inform Mr Adams that the more sidewalks the City has, the more money will be needed to maintain them, and that “we’re already having financial challenges now, be very careful where you want to go with this one because it will come back and haunt you in many ways… ”

Mr Adams replied that the operational budget — were all 156 km to be built tomorrow — would be approximately $840,000 per year. Last year’s budget included $518,000 for community sustainability initiatives promoting a sustainable city lifestyle. Sidewalks could surely be slotted under sustainable city lifestyle?

Committee Chair (and Ward 2 Councillor) Terry MacLeod expressed his opinion that the Sidewalk Master Plan is a good policy, even going so far to say “it’s a great idea”, and that pedestrian safety cannot be pushed aside.

Ward 3 Councillor Mike Duffy thought it a good idea too, stating he agreed with everything Counc. MacLeod said, but – wait for it: “… with the exception of the matter of how long the road is. I donʼt see the economy in sidewalks on both sides of the street … ” using North River Road as an example. He concluded with “so we could save a lot of money if thereʼs one sidewalk on one side regardless of what type of street.”

In response, Mr Adams explained the need for sidewalks on both sides of the road exists in commercial areas and for roads with a high traffic volume in order to reduce the number of pedestrian crossing points, giving Capital Drive, University Ave, Queen St, and Allen St as examples.

Counc. Duffy rebutted with his viewpoint that “you cross the street once … and you stay there. I see it on my street all the time. You never see anybody coming down on Highland Avenue on my side of the street …”. He referred again to North River Road up to Queen Charlotte High School. Itʼs just the culture, said he, to walk on the side of the street where the sidewalk is.

Mayor Brown chimed in with “I think we have to get away from sidewalks and look at active transportation, because sidewalks are for pedestrians, so we can make a more combined system…”

Ward 5 Councillor Kevin Ramsay spoke up to say he agreed with Mr Kelly, emphasizing that “itʼs a lot of coin!”

Yet, whenever new roads are proposed, not one councillor, not the Mayor, not the CAO, ever bring up the cost of construction or maintenance. The 2020-21 budget for Public Works: $15 million.

Contrast the $55 million sidewalk cost estimate over several years with the revenue the city pulled in this past fiscal year alone from building permits: $180 million. Add to that $34 million in property tax revenue. In March, the federal government announced its first national active transportation strategy, with $400 million to help finance trails, pedestrian bridges, multi-use pathways and widened sidewalks.

Citizens pay taxes for services and infrastructure. Sidewalks are infrastructure that benefit everybody. The more sidewalks we have, the more people will want to walk, and will be able to do so safely.

Clearly, Mr Kelly and councillors Duffy and Ramsay believe Charlottetowners can do without additional sidewalks, and would rather not invest in the Cityʼs pedestrian infrastructure.

Not once, during the meeting, did any councillor mention how essential sidewalks are for people living with disabilities or vision loss, the elderly, children, people who use mobility aids, people who donʼt drive and walk or use public transit to get around. No councillor suggested that a good number of sidewalks are too narrow and ought to be widened. Let us hope that, when this topic lands on the next Council meeting agenda, these points will be raised and Mr Adams’s proposal will be approved.

If you support Scott Adamsʼs proposal for a Sidewalk Master Plan, call or write to your councillor; and copy (or call) the other councillors and the mayor.


About sidewalks and walking:

  1. Eight Principles to Better Sidewalks
  2. Street design: Sidewalks
  3. Pedestrians First: Tools for a Walkable City
  4. Canada Walks
  5. Continuous Sidewalks
  6. Continuous Footway
  7. Video: Four Ways To Make A City More Walkable (2017 TED Talk by Jeff Speck, 18 minutes)

REVERSE TRAFFIC PYRAMID

Posted: Jul 28, 2021 7:28 AM AT | Last Updated: July 28, 9:25 PM AT