Author: Doug MacArthur
Posted with author’s permission. Original on Future of Charlottetown FaceBook page on Friday, March 19, 2021.
Watch video recording (50 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/c/CityofCharlottetown/videos
On Monday, March 22, a very important Design Review Board meeting is being held regarding APM’s proposed 84-unit apartment building to be built in the Polyclinic parking lot. Citizens need to have much more information and input than happened in the 15 Haviland case. Already, there is reason for concern.
Design Review is the City committee which approved 15 Haviland Street, 99-unit, project in 17 minutes, including the developer’s [APM] presentation. There was then no recourse allowed by the Mayor for any public input by the community or even City Council. Our only 15 Haviland recourse is for an IRAC appeal which will be launched if/when the City issues a Development Permit. The Polyclinic 84 unit seems to be embarking on a similar rushed approval process.
Several days ago, the City announced that the Design Review Board would meet about 199 Grafton on March 22. Not until Friday, March 19, did the Design Reviewer provide his technical report, and that Reviewer is the same New Brunswick architect who was paid $1500 to review APM’s $30-million 15 Haviland proposal. He was supportive of 15 Haviland, while highly regarded architects called it an urban design disaster and a box on top of a bunker on Charlottetown’s beautiful waterfront.
Late Friday afternoon, March 19, the City provided the meeting package for the noon, Monday, March 22 meeting. In the meeting package, APM asks that the Design Review Board process the necessary variances and the Development Agreement concurrently. It is clear that the developer wants this approval fast-tracked, although it is not expected to be approved at Monday’s meeting because there are so many issues with the project. These issues need to be fully resolved before any Development Agreement is entertained. Following are some of the many issues.
In the meeting package, APM refers to the project as “affordable” housing in nine instances, but nowhere in the package does it state how many of the units will actually be affordable housing. Will it be all 84 units or only a few token units to help get the project approved as per 15 Haviland? On February 16, in a CBC article about the proposed Polyclinic project, when asked about the number of affordable housing units, Tim Banks stated “it’s difficult to determine exactly how many of the units will fall into the affordable housing category.” That’s not good enough. This Polyclinic parking lot is an ideal location for bona fide affordable housing, but the exact number needs to be known before any consideration should be given to significant variances in this 500 Lot Area.
As to the variances required, there are many as the Design Reviewer acknowledges when he says “..it is clear that there are several variances required prior to obtaining a Development Agreement including frontages, setbacks, step backs, heights, Clark Street.” In fact, APM’s plans call for building right up to the edge of Clark Street, which borders the proposed project for 428 feet.
All told, this appears to be another case, as per 15 Haviland, of overbuilding a site and not respecting the scale or other physical aspects of the neighbourhood. In the meeting package, APM says that because it has “identified no significant commonality or distinction surrounding the area, the design for the proposed building adapted to what we feel is appropriate for this site.”
There are various other issues related to this proposed project which need to be addressed, and this scrutiny should begin at Monday’s Design Review meeting. Two of the key Design Review members are the Mayor and the ward Councillor for that area. For 15 Haviland, they both were wearing APM hardhats. We hope they will better represent our community’s interests on Monday and as this project proceeds through a thorough due diligence and public input process.