A sad day for nature

(Featured image taken on 10 JUNE, 2021, by Don R.)

Background

The first inkling the public received that a residential development was in the works for this area was in May 2019, through a CBC article whose source was likely Tim Banks: “Killam to buy 50% interest in Charlottetown Mall”.

Killam REIT’s first quarter report issued on 1 May 2019 stated: Killam is pleased to announce that it has agreed to purchase a 50% interest in the Charlottetown Mall, located in Charlottetown, PE, from RioCan REIT at a purchase price of $23.7 million for an all cash yield of 6.69%. This stabilized, grocery-anchored, enclosed mall is a 352,448 square foot retail complex and is the dominant shopping centre in Prince Edward Island. It is located on 32 acres in the heart of Prince Edward Island’s busiest retail node with future multi-family development opportunities of up to 300 units. The retail portion of the property will continue to be managed by RioCan after closing, with the future residential project being managed by Killam. This purchase will establish Killam’s second joint venture with RioCan REIT and the acquisition is expected to close on May 17, 2019.

Nothing more was heard about the development opportunity until August 2020, when a number of building blocks were already in place for the Planning Board to officially review APMʼs rezoning application for a field on the other side of the Confederation Trail.

What discussions took place between May 2019 and early 2020 to tempt Killam and/or Mr Banks to move those 300 units from the Mall (a built environment) across the Confederation Trail and onto a tree-filled green field (a natural environment)?

When development supersedes all else

APM President/CEO Tim Banks bears no respect for rules, regulations, or bylaws. With his Sherwood Crossing development under appeal before IRAC (P.E.Island Regulatory & Appeals Commission), and no development permit in hand, he has the temerity to send a bulldozer to rip up trees and clear the ground during full nesting season.

Why?

Aside from needlessly destroying shrubs and trees, how much wildlife was killed or injured on that day? People have seen hawks, chipmunks, snakes, and songbirds in this area.

Without a development permit, what right did Mr Banks have to send a bulldozer to clear a section of the land? Was it an act of defiance?

Will City officials order Mr Banks to remove his sign?

JUNE 8, 2021: Towers Road, north view (photo credit: Don R.)

8 June 2021 (Towers Road facing north)

Nature paved over

Written by Barbara Dylla, Charlottetown (published in The Guardian on 4 September 2020)

I have many concerns regarding APM MacLean’s proposed “North of Towers” development. One of them is the loss of the remaining natural areas within City boundaries. Greenfield land plays a critical role not only in conserving biodiversity and providing climate change mitigation benefits, but also has a positive effect on the fundamental quality of life in our communities.

It is no secret that natural habitat destruction and fragmentation are leading causes of biodiversity loss. Many urban jurisdictions have been using the green infrastructure concept, which is an interconnected network of natural areas that provides wildlife habitat, flood protection, cleaner air, and cleaner water.

Incidentally, does the public know that at least two new roads will bisect the Confederation Trail? While other cities upgrade the safety of their active transportation infrastructure, Charlottetown accepts proposals that degrade a marvelous multipurpose trail within its municipal boundaries.

I support denser mixed-used housing projects, but not at the expense of natural areas being needlessly paved over in favour of market-priced housing and automobility. Sustainable design practices incorporate more effective and efficient land use, along with alternative energy and energy conservation techniques. We have a valuable but limited ‘window of opportunity’ to design an urban environment that is optimized to deal with a warming world and committed to the betterment of the community. 

Why is the City not pushing to adopt more stringent, energy-efficient, and space-efficient building regulations that truly take Charlottetown into the 21st century and beyond?

Update (7): St Peters Rd/Angus Dr — Public meeting #2, June 22

Municipal officials, elected and otherwise, have been pulling out the stops to push through this rezoning application. It seems no effort is spared to manipulate an application, at both the residentsʼ and the publicʼs cost. Just as no effort is being spared to ensure Killam/APMʼs Sherwood Crossing, and other developments, and more roads, will be built in Sherwood … on undeveloped land to boot.

Please share this post or the link to the agenda with family, friends, neighbours. If you or they cannot attend this meeting, please watch it online. Numbers count. Community counts. Our rights as citizens count.

PUBLIC MEETING AGENDA
NOTICE OF MEETING
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. 

Victorian Room, Rodd Charlottetown Hotel, 75 Kent Street
(Also accessible via Videoconference (Webex) and live stream at www.charlottetown.ca/video)

  1. Call to Order
  2. Declaration of Conflicts
  3. Approval of Agenda
  4. Discussions:
    a) Reconsideration for Angus Drive (Lot 40) (PID #419143) & 413 St. Peters Road (PID #419135)
    Please be advised that on Monday, May 31, 2021, Council reviewed their decision of April 26, 2021 to reject the request to:
    • Amend Appendix G –Zoning Map of the Zoning & Development Bylaw for:
    -Angus Drive (Lot 40) (PID #419143) from Single Detached Residential (Large) (R-1L) Zone to Mixed Use Corridor (MUC) Zone; and 
    -413 St. Peters Road (PID #419135) from Low Density Residential (R-2) Zone to Mixed Use Corridor (MUC) Zone;
    •Amend Appendix A-Future Land Use Map of the Official Plan Map for:
    -Angus Drive (Lot 40) (PID #419143) & 413 St. Peters Road (PID #419135) from Mature Neighbourhood to Village Centre Commercial;
    •And further, to consolidate Angus Drive (Lot 40) (PID #419143), 413 St. Peters Road (PID #419135) and 419 St. Peters Road (PID #192187),

    in order to facilitate road upgrades by the Province to St. Peters Road and construct a second means of access for the convenience store to and from Angus Drive. 

    Section 3.15 of the Zoning and Development Bylaw (the “ZD Bylaw”) permits an aggrieved person to request a reconsideration by Council if it is determined that the original decision rendered by Council satisfied a prescribed threshold test. Council has determined that this application did meet the threshold test and have scheduled a public meeting to provide the applicant, the developer and affected property owners or their representatives an opportunity to present their submissions.
  5. Introduction of New Business
  6. Adjournment of Public Session

For contact tracing purposes and due to the room capacity limit of 100 seats, those wishing to participate in person must register in advance and adhere to the guidelines set by the Chief Public Health Officer, details of which are available online at www.princeedwardisland.ca/covid19. Those who are unable or uncomfortable attending in person can participate in the public meeting via videoconference (Webex). Anyone who wants to observe the meeting without commenting can watch it at http://www.charlottetown.ca/video. To register to attend the meeting either in person or by alternate means, residents are requested to contact the Planning & Heritage Department by email at planning@charlottetown.ca or call 902-629-4158 on or before 4:00 p.m. on Friday, June 18, 2021 to provide their contact details (name, phone number and/or email address). Once the maximum capacity has been reached, residents will be advised to participate in the meeting by videoconference (Webex). Business hours are between 8:00 AM –4:00 PM, Monday –Friday. Staff will contact interested participants no later 4:00 p.m. on Monday, June 21, 2021 with details on how to participate in the meeting. The City encourages written submissions to Council be received prior to the public meeting. Notwithstanding, all written submissions by letter may be delivered to the City’s Planning & Heritage Department at P.O. Box 98, 199 Queen Street, Charlottetown, PE, C1A 7K2; or, comments may be emailed to planning@charlottetown.ca on or before 12:00 noon on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. All responses received will become part of the public record. Oral submissions or comments may be made at the public meeting, but residents are requested to please keep their oral submissions to a three (3) to five (5) minute maximum.

View agenda online: https://www.charlottetown.ca/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=17757573

Housing. Shelter. Community.

The public meeting about short-term rentals (STR) on Monday, 17 May, raised a number of issues centred around the commodification and financialization of housing. What does this mean? It means the conversion of housing from something that provides shelter, protection, privacy, space for personal and family activities into something that is bought and sold and used to make money. In other words, the value of a house as a real estate investment outweighs its importance as a place to live.

As a result, apartment rents and house prices have been pushed out of the affordability range for a growing number of residents.

“Housing has been financialized: valued as a commodity rather than a human dwelling, it is now a means to secure and accumulate wealth rather than a place to live in dignity, to raise a family and thrive within a community.”

Lailani Farha, UN Human Rights Council (2017)

This led to a housing crisis and the Cityʼs response — without actually defining the precise nature of the crisis — has been to approve record numbers of building permits over the past couple of years. The Planning Department has used the “housing crisis” to justify its support for several controversial developments. Even developers work it into their applications to request (and justify) rezoning and variance applications.

What data did the City of Charlottetown have to legitimize the approval of so many applications and permits? In 2020, the Chair of the Planning Board Committee regularly quoted StatsCan figures to rationalize the development boom, rather than conduct its own housing needs assessment. A 2016 blog post by Bowen National Research describes the purpose and components of a housing needs assessment. It seems fairly straightforward, and should be regarded as a smart investment of public funds.

The Cityʼs zoning and development bylaw is another important component that affects community planning and development decisions. The bylaw contains requirements that could well be considered outdated, even exclusionary, in particular where minimum lot sizes and parking minimums are concerned. Removing these two requirements would do much to prevent urban sprawl (low-density residential development over more and more rural land), and let property owners decide the amount of parking they want.

In a 2017 statement, United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing (and Canadian) Leilani Farha reported that: “Financialization detaches housing from its connection to communities and to the human dignity and security that are at the core of all human rights.”

The individuals who spoke during the 17 May public meeting — many of them from the younger generations — were passionate in their desire to live in a vibrant, thriving, and safe city, yet expressed their anxieties, insecurities, and fears about the precariousness of living in Charlottetown.

Will this City Council and administration be willing and ready to make Charlottetown residents their priority when drafting the Short-term Rental bylaw?