West Royalty Traffic Plan and proposed Sherwood Crossing development

In May 2019, Killam REIT announced the purchase of 50% of RioCan REIT’s Charlottetown Mall property, “with future multi-family development opportunities of up to 300 units.”

In February 2020, those 300 units moved to undeveloped land on the other side of the Confederation Trail (aka Rails to Trails). As reported by CBC: “Developer Tim Banks told CBC News his company, Pan American Properties, plans to build 300 units over the next decade on about six hectares off of Towers Road.

The Killam/RioCan/APM residential development was presented in a public meeting on August 26, 2020, as part of a rezoning application. All the other pieces around it have been handled piecemeal by the City, before and after that date. In so doing, City Council failed to duly inform the public in accordance with the Council Code of Conduct Bylaw #2020-CC-01, Part II – Principles, Section 8.4. “Members of Council are responsible for the decisons that they make. This responsibility includes acts of commission and acts of omission. In turn, decision-making processes must be transparent and subject to public scrutiny”; and Section 8.8. “Members of Council have a duty to demonstrate openness and transparency about their decisions and actions.” 

Timeline

Feb. 7, 2020: The City’s Capital Budget was approved. The Guardian reported: “The capital budget also includes $650,000 that will enable the city to create a road that links Towers Road up with Spencer Drive, giving traffic the option of bypassing the parking lot at the rear of the Charlottetown Mall. And while no one will say anything on the record, the city is also looking into extending Spencer Drive to Mount Edward Road.”

Mar. 17, 2020: Premier King announced that the provincial cabinet had declared a state of public health emergency under the Public Health Act. (COVID-19)

Mar. 19, 2020: Special Meeting of Council (vote 9–0 in favour): Resolution 4 (c) “[…] That the submission from CBCL Ltd. to perform a comprehensive traffic study of undeveloped lands adjacent to the main retail area of Charlottetown, as additional work to the City’s Growth Management Study, be accepted.” Cost $69,000. City of Charlottetown website

April 12, 2020: “The Public Works Department would like to advise the public that negotiations are underway regarding the section of private road located between Towers Road and Spencer Drive.” City of Charlottetown website

Aug. 5, 2020: New Road Construction – Towers Road to Spencer Drive (Invitation To Tender) – Closing date Aug. 19

Aug. 26, 2020: Public Meeting held at the Rodd Royalty Hotel, Charlottetown. Presentation starts at 1:37:00 in the video. Documents available at charlottetown.ca.

Aug. 27, 2020: CBC’s headline Proposed Charlottetown housing development raises questions about traffic

Oct. 29, 2020: In a closed session at a Special Meeting, Council received a presentation regarding the traffic study from CBCL engineers and authorized CAO Peter Kelly to expedite the purchase of two properties [241/245 Mt Edward Rd], to be leased back to the occupants for two years.

Feb. 8, 2021: Monthly Meeting of Council (vote 6–3 in favour): Council authorized the increase in the 20/21 Capital Budget of $550,000 to fund the purchase of two properties (241 and 245 Mount Edward Rd). These properties face Ash Drive and stand in the way of the Spencer Drive extension, which is on Killam/RioCan/APM’s proposed Sherwood Crossing development property. It is worth noting that the City’s Public Works Department will act as property manager for a two-year period.

Feb. 26, 2021: The City posts an announcement on its Web site: “CITY REQUESTS INPUT ON TRAFFIC MASTER PLAN” with details on how to access the traffic plan and ends with “While there is no current deadline to submit feedback, please note that residents will have the opportunity to provide input in a public consultation, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.” The Guardian publishes the announcement on March 12, the CBC posts an article on March 16, presumably in response to a letter I sent on March 11 to ask why the media has failed to inform the public.

“Good or bad we want to hear about what everyone’s concerned about.”

And moving forward, Adams said the plan will be brought to city council and hopefully put in place for when developments begin. 

CBC “Charlottetown seeking input on new roads in West Royalty” (March 16, 2021)

April 13, 2021: The City posts another announcement with the date of the public meeting (7 p.m., Monday, April 26, Confederation Centre of the Arts). Neither local newspaper The Guardian nor CBC PEI have reported the new details so far.

To reserve a seat for the public meeting, to go https://confederationcentre.com/event-list/?ID=publicmeeting and click “Book Now” (free seats = blue dots),  phone 902-566-1267, or send an e-mail to info@confederationcentre.com

Transportation Master Plan: Make your voice heard!

A Transportation Master Plan (TMP) is one of many documents that directs a municipality over the long term. It works with a municipality’s Official Plan, which directs land use and development, as well as others concerning municipal servicing, parks and recreation, and economic development. Generally, a transportation master plan determines the need for transportation improvements and establishes policies for the future transportation network.

Seven municipalities currently working on their TMP

Here’s a brief list of Canadian municipalities (with 2016 population data) who are in the process of developing a new TMP or updating an outdated one:

If you clicked the hyperlinks to view the details, you’ll notice that every municipality, no matter how small, has one thing in common on their website: a project timeline. Smaller municipalities allocate about six months, bigger ones up to two years, to complete their Plan.

Here is Peterboroughs project timeline:

Peterborough, ON

Another common feature: a visible link to a survey or various ways in which residents, businesses and other stakeholders are encouraged to share their opinions.

How the City of Charlottetown proceeds

Compare this to Charlottetown’s announcement for the West Royalty Area Traffic Master Plan:

The City of Charlottetown Public Works Department wishes to invite the public to a public consultation for the City to receive feedback on the Transportation Master Plan for the West Royalty Commercial Area. This public meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 26, 2021, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Confederation Centre of the Arts (145 Richmond Street).

In addition to the master plan presentation, uploaded on February 26, 2021, the City’s Public Works department has made the Full Report of the West Royalty Commercial Area Transportation Master Plan available online for residents to consult prior to the public meeting. Both documents are available at www.charlottetown.ca/trafficplan 

This meeting is to enable the Public Works Department to check off the Public Feedback component as a token gesture to the planning process, because apparently the Final Report is to be submitted to the Planning Department. At that point, one presumes the Planning Department will present the Final Report to the Planning Board and/or City Council.

One has to wonder whether City Council will be required to call a public meeting on the traffic plans Final Report, which, lets be clear, is to enable developers to receive approval for their projects.

Will we let the City get away with such shenanigans?!

This is why its so important to make your voice heard. Nothing prevents anyone from outright challenging the report. Whether you write one sentence or twenty, your comments are crucial to ensure the Final Report isnt just a duplicate of the Draft Final Report.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

Public Meeting: West Royalty Transportation Master Plan

Background

The words “traffic study” and “traffic master plan” were used interchangeably last year during the North of Towers, a.k.a. Sherwood Crossing, rezoning application meetings. Despite requests by citizens for a copy of the traffic study, the City consistently refused, partly on the grounds that the two were not connected, partly because it would call a public meeting in future. In a 6–3 City Council vote on December 14, 2020, the rezoning application for the future Killam/APM development located within the traffic study area was approved.

On April 13, the City announced that the Public Works department is hosting a public consultation on Monday, April 26 at the Homburg Theatre (Confederation Centre of the Arts). The purpose is to provide prepare a final West Royalty Commercial Area Transportation Master Plan based on public input received during a one-meeting, two-hour ‛consultation processʼ.

When a slide presentation of the traffic study was released to the public in February, it bore the title SDU & Area Vacant Lands—Transportation Master Plan.

In March, when the Draft Final Report posted on the City’s website, it was renamed West Royalty Commercial Area—Transportation Master Plan.

What is a Transportation Master Plan [TMP]?

It is a document that guides a municipality’s transportation investment and activities, and typically uses a strategic framework that incorporates the Cityʼs vision, feedback from the community, and an analysis of transportation challenges and opportunities.

The City of Courtenay, B.C., (2016 pop. 54,157) presents an excellent example with its completed 2019 Transportation Master Plan.

Transportation … or Traffic?

The Transportation Master Plan document created by CBCL, whose mission“is to provide world-class engineering and environmental services” (no Transportation Planning in its list of ‛Solutionsʼ), states the following in the Executive Summary:

Note fourth line: ‛to forecast the growth of vehicular travel demand’

Nearly 35 pages are filled with details of the traffic analysis zones and roughly 40 pages with traffic data.

What about other modes of transportation?

Section 4.2. Active Transportation: “AT design focused on the human experience will positively influence mode choice among residents and visitors, and help to reduce the negative effects of a transportation system dominated by motorized vehicles.”

Section 4.3. Transit: “Future roadways and development site plans within the study area should be designed with transit connectivity in mind include adequate lighting and signage at stops; safe, comfortable shelters; and good active transportation connections.”

Section 4.4. entitled Sherwood Residential Area appears to have been added to soothe local residentsʼ fears about increased traffic. (Not a joke.)

The cover letter to Scott Adams, Manager of Public Works, states:

CBCL Limited (CBCL) is pleased to present the findings of this comprehensive study of vacant lands adjacent to the main commercial area of Charlottetown. We understand there is increasing pressure from several property owners, primarily north and east of the Charlottetown Mall, to obtain City approval to move forward with various development plans. The main objective of this Transportation Master Plan is to assist City staff by providing strategies for future development and street connections to the existing road network needed to support this growth.

Posted: April 19, 2021 | Last Updated: April 22, 2021

TED Talk: The Antidote to Apathy

A few years ago someone sent me the link to a TED Talk video that Dave Meslin, a local organizer based in Toronto, presented in 2010. It is still incredibly valid today.

“Apathy as we think we know it doesn’t actually exist,” said Meslin. “People do care, but we live in a world that actively discourages engagement by constantly putting obstacles and barriers in the way.”

Barriers such as the ones below:

At a short seven minutes, I encourage you to watch this video and to share it widely.

Comments are always welcome!

UPDATE: St Peters Rd/Angus Dr

This is the final instalment. Phew!

With Councillor Coady ineligible to vote (having declared a conflict of interest), the remaining City Councillors voted to reject the resolution on this rezoning application.

The discussion, which lasts nearly one hour, starts at minute 25:00 in the video-recording of the meeting.

Hear what your councillor said

Coun. Tweel (27:42) “Angus Drive has been a neighbourhood street for the past 50 years.”
Coun. Bernard (33:43) States reasons he’s against the application.
Coun. McCabe (35:40) States reasons she’s against the application.
Coun. Rivard (38:03) Not in favour of application, but presents a motion to defer the decision. Seconded by Coun. Jankov. Offers possible solutions (interrupted by annoying coughing – Coun. Duffy?).
Coun. Jankov (39:30) Supports deferral, stating it’s an opportunity to have a win for everybody.
Coun. Rivard (41:00) Refers to a past [similar?] rezoning application [Needs Convenience Store at Robin Avenue]
Coun. McCabe (41:38) Reminds everyone that the decision cannot be deferred, because the roundabout is on the verge of being built by the province. Manager of Planning Alex Forbes stated the tender is out for the roundabout.
Coun. Tweel (43:20) Reminds everyone the topic is the rezoning application, and residents want an answer.
Coun. Ramsay (45:15) “We have to start looking after residents.”
Coun. Rivard (46:30) Still in favour of deferring a decision.
Coun. Duffy (47:18) [I hear a lecture coming] “It’s a safety concern all around. I fail to see how this would increase traffic on Angus Drive.” He has the gall to disparage the six individuals from five households who spoke up at the March 23 public meeting, and the writers of 3 or 4 letters not in support, presuming that the remaining 1495 households in Ward 9 “are all for it, or just didn’t have the time to tell us their thoughts.”
Coun. Bernard (52:30) “How much commercial do we want on St Peters?”
Coun. Jankov (55:35) Deferral will allow for further discussion so the application is not quashed.
Coun. MacLeod (56:38) States reasons he’s against the application. Asks “What about MacRae Drive?” [intersects St Peters west of Angus Dr]
57:45–1:04:40 Discussion among several councillors and Mr Forbes ensues about the deferral motion.
Mayor Brown (1:04:40) After some confusion, the vote on the resolution is held. The result: 8–1 against, with Coun. Duffy the only one in favour of the rezoning application.

In the media

The Guardian: Charlottetown council throws up road block on proposed new road in East Royalty

CBC: Controversial road proposal shut down by Charlottetown council

Read my first post on the topic: March 23, 2021: Public Meeting

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: The Great Societal Equalizer

Original text published as a Guest Opinion on November 9, 2020, in The Guardian and Journal Pioneer.

Public transportation is the most sustainable and equitable form of transportation that exists. Richard A. White, President and CEO of American Public Transportation Association, observed that public transportation is the original “shared-economy” form of transportation.

The advantages of riding a bus are many. It provides independence to people of all ages and mobility to people living with a disability, it is inexpensive (or free in many cities nowadays), it is healthy because the user walks or cycles to/from the bus stop and it is less stressful than driving.

A lack of public transportation can have a disproportionate impact on working and low-income individuals and immigrants. According to an article in The Atlantic, “Access to just about everything associated with upward mobility and economic progress—jobs, quality food, and goods (at reasonable prices), healthcare, and schooling—relies on the ability to get around in an efficient way, and for an affordable price.” Education and jobs are often cited as the key to overcoming income inequality, while the means to achieving either of these goods remains overlooked.

The automobile’s pervasive presence has been normalised so much that we now find ourselves living and working in places that do more to serve the needs of cars than of people. A well planned public transportation system serves as an effective way to combat automobile dependency. Over-reliance on cars takes a toll on humanity: their emissions increase the likelihood that a healthy person will develop serious diseases, including heart disease or lung cancer, later in life, causing a similar number of premature deaths as traffic collisions. Public transit tends to produce less pollution per passenger-kilometre compared to personal motor vehicles. It is a climate change mitigation opportunity that has been shown to decrease air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Using public transportation is far more affordable that owning and operating a vehicle. A car costs between $8,600 and $13,000 a year, including insurance, gas, maintenance, tires, and depreciation. A T3 Transit monthly pass currently costs $58.50, or $702 a year (Greater Charlottetown Area). Who wouldn’t want to save at least $8,000 a year, or put that money towards better housing, healthier food choices, or education?

A publicly owned, managed, and operated transit system is usually cheaper, more likely to provide good service, and is more accountable to riders than privately run transit*. It is the great societal equalizer, granting everyone universal access to transportation. It’s a known fact that mass transportation makes cities more just, environmentally sustainable, and economically vibrant. On PEI, a public transit system would have to include the unique needs of rural and small-town residents. They, just as much as urban residents, have a right to mobility and a “right to the city” (slogan coined by Henri Lefebvre).

It is time for PEI’s political leaders to make a commitment to create car-free streets and spaces in our cities and towns, to de-prioritize the automobile in their transportation funding allocations, to charge drivers the full cost of their bad habit, and to use the revenue to fund not only a public transit system, but also infrastructure improvements for walking and cycling.

Barbara Dylla of Charlottetown has submitted this article through the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the 10 Days for Transit initiative.

*Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars? ©2020 James Wilt, pp 189–191

UPDATE: St Peters Road/Angus Dr

On April 5, I wrote a post explaining the Planning Board’s role in the planning and development process; and that the Board’s meeting agenda on April 6 would include the St Peters Road rezoning application.

Citizens may appreciate the fact that the meetings are live-streamed and archived. The major drawback is that viewers are unable to see the presentations (except when Cisco Webex is used), leaving them in the dark as to what those in the room are seeing. What is the City waiting for to upgrade its video technology?

Planning Board meeting: April 6

Despite that drawback, the Planning Board video-recording (go to minute 35:20) is well worth listening to, if only because it demonstrates once again that residents’ comments are trivialized. In a presentation and discussion that lasts 23 minutes, a scant minute (37:15–37:58) is devoted to listing the objections of “mainly area residents”. No mention is made of their suggestions, however.

So when the entire discussion is focussed on traffic, when the concluding sentence by the planner is “we feel that in the interest of the public, this is the best option” (40:55), when the objective is clearly to accommodate a retail business’s expansion (letʼs call it what it is), when public money is being used to construct a vehicle-only-friendly roundabout to enable that expansion, it is clear that both the Province and the City are less than willing to consider viable alternatives in favour of the people living in the community.

Call to action

If you want the City of Charlottetown and the Provincial Government to start thinking about the people who live here instead of the vehicles driving through, please write to your councillor, the mayor, your MLA, and Premier King (see Links for contact information).

Regular Meeting of Council: April 12

The Planning Board’s recommendation to proceed with the rezoning application will be discussed at the Regular Meeting of Council on Monday, April 12 (starts at 5 p.m.). At time of writing, the Monthly Council Meeting package has not been made public.


Meeting moments of interest
→ 39:00 : Planner describing “mitigative measures” and “safety issue”
→ 43:35 : Exchange between Councillor McCabe and Planning Board Chair Duffy
→ 50:20 : Exchange between Coun. McCabe and Planner about Mel’s further expansion in future
→ 51:18 : Manager of Planning Mr Forbes on provincial control of St Peters Road
→ 52:10 : Coun. McCabe question “How many times has this application been before Council?”
→ 53:22 : Planning Board Chair Duffy and the “Fairness Factor”
→ 55:20 : Manager of Planning Mr Forbes and the “complicated traffic-related issue”

P.S. Heavens to Betsy, if I had a dollar for every time someone in Planning or Council said: “I’m not a traffic engineer” !

Creating complete streets

Urban highways are tied to low-occupancy vehicles, high-stress travel, reduced walkability, erased communities, segregation, and climate change. Building complete streets instead of urban highways leads to healthier, more economically productive, and more sociable cities.  Learn more.

BRT: Bus Rapid Transit
Source: Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)

UDPATE: St Peters Rd/Angus Dr

Planning Board Meeting: April 6, 2021

On March 22, I wrote a post about the rezoning applications in the Angus Drive, St Peters Road, and Hanmac Drive area of East Royalty.

The City’s Planning Board meeting is the next step in the rezoning process. One of the Board’s responsibilities is “to consult with the community and interest groups in matters relating to land use, planning and heritage.” The Mayor, four Councillors, and five Resident members sit on the Board.

The monthly meeting is held the first Monday of the month (or Tuesday following a holiday), usually starts at 4:30 PM, and is streamed live on the City of Charlottetown Web site. Video-recordings are archived on the City’s YouTube channel (select VIDEO for most recent meetings).

Details of the Public Meeting: March 23, 2021

I’m worried we will be bombarded with air pollutants, noise pollutants and light pollutants.

Laura Morgan (pp 73–74)

Details of the St Peters Rd/Angus Drive portion of the Public Meeting are found on pages 14 to 22 of the April 6, 2021, Planning Board Meeting Package (16.7MB). The package also contains the rezoning application with historical information, the City planner’s analysis, copies of citizen letters, and more (pages 51 to 88). If you want to watch the video-recording of the presentation, go to minute 17:00 (ends at 1:28:40).

This isn’t about traffic flow, this is about Steven Yeo helping Dan MacIsaac get what he wanted for Mel’s 7 years ago …

Patty and Randy Good (page 71)
Where is the human scale?

“As the world looks to recover and rebuild in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, cities have the opportunity to curb the growing demand for driving by prioritizing street space and even generating revenue that can support public transport, walking, cycling, and other sustainable modes.”
— Institute for Transportation and Development Policy