Municipal Voting Reform: Making every vote count

Electoral reform is often brought up as a federal issue. But it is just as important at the provincial and municipal levels. Whether MPs, MLAs, mayors or councillors, many have been elected on tiny majorities as a result of the first-past-the-post electoral system or have simply returned unopposed (i.e. acclaimed).

It’s time for a proportional system for municipalities, where no one has to ‘hold their nose’ at the ballot box, and where there is healthy competition – rather than a politics of ‘winner takes all’ and uncontested fiefdoms.

‛Better ballots for a better city council’

Dave Meslin, who labels himself an independent non-partisan community organizer, has been championing a proportional voting system at the municipal level since at least 2010!

In fact, he wrote a blog post in 2009 in which he declared: “By any measure, our city elections are failing us. Voter turnout is astonishingly low, turnover of Councillors is extremely rare, and our Council is surprisingly white and male for a city that allegedly prides itself on its ‘diversity’.” That was Toronto then. It could describe Charlottetown today.

Meslin is the creative director of Unlock Democracy Canada (modelled after the UKʼs Unlock Democracy organization), a non-profit organization that is part of Canada’s growing movement for democratic renewal. Here is what he writes about municipal reform:

Municipal democracy could use some innovation in Canada.  […] with First-Past-the-Post, thousands of Council Members across Canada are serving without a definitive mandate. It’s normal for a Mayor to “win” a race in Canada, with less than 50% of the vote – or even less than 30%.

In 2018:
Philip Brown received 42.13% of the vote.
Voter turnout in Charlottetown was 58% (relatively unchanged since 2000).

But there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to local democracy. From Victoria to Iqaluit to St John’s, each municipality has their own unique needs, demographics and history.  That’s why our local councils need flexibility and tools to maximize participation and diversity.  If cities have Local Choice, then they can begin to experiment with democratic reform. Change always starts local!


Meslin holds a monthly workshop Better Ballots 101 the first of every month at 8 PM Atlantic time.
Click here to register for the November 1, 2021, workshop.

Learn more:


Report a typo, or send a question or comment by e-mail to:
newcharlottetownproject [at] eastlink.ca

Municipal elections: November 7, 2022

Mark the date: The next PEI municipal elections are on Monday, November 7, 2022.

Itʼs not too early to consider the issues affecting citizens, nor is it too early to encourage and support candidates who believe they can make a difference on City Council.

In this era of climate crisis and the profound repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on our society, it is crucial that progressive, positive, skilled and enlightened individuals — who see themselves as champions of change — seriously contemplate running for councillor in their ward.

The importance of local government

A healthy municipal democracy begins with the participation of its citizens. It is their chance to influence the future of their community.

Local government is the government closest to the people and has a direct influence on citizensʼ daily lives.

Local government serves a two-fold purpose. The first purpose is the
administrative purpose of supplying goods and services; the other purpose is to represent and involve citizens in determining specific local public needs and how these local needs can be met.

Local government plans and pays for local services such as public transit, recreation and activities, provides water, organizes police and fire services, establishes zoning regulations, and so much more. These are functions that directly affect citizens every day and in every part of their lives.

Our Mayor and City Council are failing both in their collective ability to fulfill their functions effectively and in meeting the expectations of the citizens.

As citizens of the City of Charlottetown, we must demand stronger municipal governance that will deliver better outcomes for public expenditures and improved efficiency in service delivery.

Do we want a more transparent, inclusive, responsive and responsible City Council?

Then let us raise our voices, connect with each other, and be instrumental in inspiring and encouraging progressive and civil society leaders from all walks of life to consider running for mayor or councillor.


More on this topic:

Elections PEI refers readers to Section 33 of the the Municipal Government Act (MGA): Division 3 – Qualification of Candidates.

33. Qualifications of candidates
(1) A person may be nominated as a candidate and elected to a council of a municipality only if
(a) the person is qualified in accordance with clauses 31(2)(a) and (b) to vote in the municipal election;
(b) the person has been ordinarily resident in the municipality for a period of at least six months before election day; and
(c) the person is not disqualified by reason of
(i) being a judge of the provincial court, the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal,
(i.1) being a member of a council of another municipality,
(ii) being a Member of Parliament or a member of the Legislative Assembly,
(iii) being a current employee who has not obtained a leave of absence in accordance with section 34 in order to be nominated as a candidate, or
(iv) another provision of this Act.

Residency limitation
(2) A person who meets the requirements of subsection (1) shall be nominated only in the municipality in which the person resides.

Kent Street lighting scheme

Citizens generally want their municipal government to realize better outcomes for public expenditures, given that resources in
the public sector are mostly generated through taxes (municipal, provincial, and federal).

At the same time, a municipal government must have the ability to fulfill its functions in an effective way that meets the expectations of its citizens.

An active and productive cooperation between government and citizens is one of the results of good governance.

What is governance?

Practised on a daily basis, governance is typically about
the way public servants make decisions and implement
policies.

What is good governance?

Good governance is essential for ensuring that government is allocating resources wisely and fairly, and that it is serving the public interest in an open and transparent manner — which in turn is essential for building and maintaining citizens’ confidence in the public sector.

“Good governance makes it really difficult to do the wrong thing and really easy to do the right thing.”

Andrew Corbett-Nolan, Chief Executive of Good Governance Institute, UK

Principles of Good Governance in the Public Sector

Source: Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia

Kent Street and the stewardship principle

Stewardship is the act of looking after resources on behalf
of the public and is demonstrated by maintaining or improving capacity to serve the public interest over time.

Charlottetown’s City Council fell short of the stewardship principle when it voted in favour of a proposal by Discover Charlottetown, which had been lobbying for an all-year lighting scheme on Kent Street.

The Guardian first reported on this in March, following an initial presentation by Discover Charlottetown to the Public Works & Urban Beautification Committee meeting on March 26, 2021 (sound muted until 7 minutes in). It should be noted that presenter Shallyn Murray, who works at Nine Yards Studio, which will manage the project, is a resident member of the City’s Planning Board.

The final version of the project—along with requests for financial support—was presented to the Committee on August 25, 2021.

CBC posted an article on September 17, explaining that “The marketing firm [Discover Charlottetown] is planning to install overhead cables which will run along the section of the street thatʼs between Great George and Prince streets in the cityʼs downtown.”

Here’s the kicker: “The City of Charlottetown has agreed to cover the cost of changing the decorations, which is estimated to cost between $10,000 and $40,000 per year.”

Seasonal change-out schedule for the Kent Street overhead lighting project
Source: City of Charlottetown – Monthly Council Meeting Package, Sept. 13, 2021 (p. 440)

Readers will note that the images above do not portray Kent Street.

Add to that: “The city will also pick up costs of the yearly inspection of the cable connections, which are estimated to be about $2,500.

Screen shot of Discover Charlottetown's request to City Council to consider public funding request for the Kent Street overhead lighting project
Source: City of Charlottetown – Monthly Council Meeting Package, Sept. 13, 2021 (p. 429)

City of Charlottetown Resolution to approve the Kent Street overhead lighting project

Food-for-thought questions

In terms of urban beautification, would you qualify the Kent Street overhead lighting project as effective and efficient public spending?

Do you agree with executive director of Discover Charlottetown Heidi Zinnʼs question “… what better way to market a city than create a space for people to take pictures of, that they’ll take pictures of again and again and again … ?”

If you could allocate $40,000 annually toward urban beautification, what do you believe would be worth improving or investing in, and that residents across Charlottetown could make use of all year long?

More on Governance:

IV. Walkable urban places — Political benefits

Walking is increasingly a political agenda as cities fight to reduce cars, congestion and pollution while striving for a safer, healthier, more vibrant community of residents and visitors alike. A rising consciousness around the fundamental role of public space is leading cities to update out-dated regulations based around cars and parking in favour of a more holistic view of mobility and access. These and other policies are actively trying to get people back onto to the streets thanks to micro and temporary solutions.1

Walkability requires political will from local policymakers to use public resources to further that goal. It means adding walkability projects to budgets and prioritizing walkability over other issues competing for public resources. The political will to make those decisions will materialize only in response to a loud and influential constituency.

“An active city is a city with a chance. It’s a city with a future. It’s a place that’s designed for people to move throughout their day-to-day lives.”

Nike, Designed to move active cities, 2015

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 political benefits of walkable places

  1. Enhancing tax revenue
    Reoriented for pedestrians, neighbourhoods can thrive and diversify to better support local economies, raise quality of life indicators, and improve local and regional environmental conditions.
  2. Fostering competitiveness
    Investing in walkability raises cities’ competitiveness and their importance in the global cities network. Today, urban competitiveness is more than ever a central issue for local public policies due to globalisation and the integration of markets.
  3. Building public consensus
    Brave decisions may generate strong short-term resistance but build long-term consensus. If broad support for walking infrastructure and walking friendly environments can be achieved across the community, political support will naturally follow.
  4. Supporting urban centres
    Walking is better for the planet, better for your mind and better for your body. As it becomes more prevalent, cities are shifting their urban designs to incorporate public space and corridors and making them pleasant and safe at a human scale.
  5. Promoting citizen empowerment
    Empowerment is the process that enhances the individual and collective capacity to make choices and to transform them into concrete actions. Cities may empower their citizens’ responsibility promoting collaborative economic models.
  6. Promotes sustainable behaviour
    Cities are the main contributors to climate change, responsible for 75% of global CO2 emissions; they are vulnerable systems and their future wellbeing is strictly related to their ability to change negative transport habits, and turn towards a more sustainable future.
  7. Supporting regeneration processes
    Shaping a more walkable city involves redesigning the space in order to reduce car dominance and marks the pedestrian re-appropriation of the street. The addition of free and flexible pedestrian space created by the removal of cars fosters new opportunities for unprecedented urban transformation.
  8. Addressing city resilience
    Resilience is a crucial characteristic for all cities fighting to keep up with the rapid transformation that they are undergoing. Key elements of any walkable city – such as having multiple services within a short distance – make cities more resilient.
  9. Boosting flexibility and enabling micro-solutions
    Some studies have shown a strong correlation between walkable environments and the development of creative and innovative ideas and solutions.
  10. Promoting cultural heritage
    As processes of globalisation transform places, cities try to grasp onto their own unique characters. A city’s heritage helps to define the identity of a place, and it is a fundamental feature that enhances social cohesiveness, economic prosperity and competitiveness.

“A city’s ability to compete depends on an active population. The research is clear on this. Integrating physical activity into the places we work, live, learn, travel and play is the only way to ensure we move enough to thrive.”

Nike, Designed to move active cities, 2015

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


More on this topic:

The scourge of urban Japanese knotweed

You may have observed Japanese knotweed around town or on your property. While the stem looks remarkably like bamboo (which is actually a grass), the leaves are completely different.

The plant grows extremely fast in one season and, once established, is extremely difficult to eradicate.

In 2019, the Environment and Sustainability Committee was made aware of the challenges faced by homeowners who attempt to control Japanese knotweed on their property, and recommendations were suggested to inform and educate residents along with a request to introduce a by-law that would require property owners to remove noxious and invasive weeds.

Until the City passes a noxious/invasive weed by-law, residents are left to either ignore the plant pest or try to remove it with perhaps not the best results.

Now is a good time of the year for property owners to make a positive identification so they can be prepared to start controlling the spread and growth of this environmental nuisance next spring.

About

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is found not only on the PEI Invasive Species Council list, but also on the Canadian and every provincial Invasive Species Council lists. It is among the world’s worst invasive alien species.

The Canadian Council on Invasive Species explains that a very limited number of ‘alien, non-native’ plants are identified as ‘high risk’ and pose a direct threat to human health and safety, the environment, and the economy. These plants are known as invasive due to their ability to aggressively take over the landscape.

The reason Japanese knotweed is so aggressive and hard to control is because the roots (rhizomes) grow in all directions at various depths and even sprout shoots underground. The tough shoots can break through gravel, tarmac, and concrete. Prolific rhizome and shoot growth can damage foundations, walls, pavements, drainage works, and flood prevention structures.

➤ Rhizomes can extend 7 metres (about 23 ft) horizontally and 3 metres (about 10 ft) deep, with shoots even sprouting underground! The plant we see above-ground is really the “tip of the iceberg”.

Controlling the spread of Japanese knotweed

The best time to tackle Japanese knotweed is in spring, when the previous year’s dried-up stalks can be more easily removed and before too many new shoots sprout from the rhizomes.

Controlling Japanese knotweed depends on the size of the infestation, but whichever method is used, it must be continued for at least 5 years to ensure that the rhizomes are weakened sufficiently to prevent new growth.

For urban property owners, one of the more common — and inexpensive — control methods is tarping.

Tarping refers to covering an invasive plant population with a dark material to block sunlight and “cook” the root system.

FIRST YEAR:
To tarp an area, first cut Japanese knotweed stems, taking care not to spread any plant pieces. Even the smallest fragment of stem or rhizome can produce new plants.
Carefully place the plant pieces in a thick clear plastic bag and tightly seal the bags.
Write “Japanese knotweed”or “invasive plant” on the bag.
Place it in your waste cart; you can also have up to 2 excess bags beside your cart [source: Island Waste Management].

Next, smooth out the targeted area, remove rocks and any other debris that may damage the covering. Cover the infested area with thick or multiple layers of a dark coloured tarp or heavy material, extending up to 2 metres beyond plant growth, and weigh down with stones, bricks, planks, soil, etc.
How-to video

SUBSEQUENT YEARS:
Monitor the perimeter for new shoots, especially in spring, when growth is strongest. Pull out the shoots as you find them, bag carefully, and follow the disposal method described above. Cover new area and continue monitoring the perimeter for new shoots.

Check the tarp/plastic cover every spring/early summer for damage. Use duct tape to repair tears, or add or replace tarp/plastic as required.

Do not check under the tarp to remove new shoots (they will be white from lack of sun), as this will only provoke the plant to produce even more shoots.


  • It takes time and patience to bring the knotweed under control (up to eight years).
  • If space allows, plant shade-producing native species around the tarp/wrap.
  • KEY MESSAGE FROM EXPERTS: Have a plan and keep at it.

Call to action

Japanese Knotweed is a serious problem, which needs to be taken seriously, especially by city councils. Because Charlottetown has no noxious or invasive weed by-law, home-owners with Japanese knotweed on their property are not legally required to control it or to prevent it from spreading onto neighbouring land.

  1. Contact or write to your councillor to ask for an amendment to the Municipal Property Standards By-law. A Canadian municipality can pass a property standards by-law under the Building Code Act to address the presence of weeds deemed noxious or a threat to the environment or human health and safety.
  2. Contact or write to your councillor and your MLA to urge the PEI Legislature to
    (a) raise greater awareness of the Prince Edward Island Weed Control Act,
    (b) include all alien invasive plant species as noxious weeds in the Act and,
    (c) introduce regulations to control the spread of Japanese knotweed, as the province did with purple loosestrife in 2004.

Municipalities with a noxious weed by-law:

Posted: Sep 28, 2021, 8:04 AM AT | Last Updated: September 30, 2021, 12:50 PM AT

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)