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

Interpreting City Councilʼs Code of Conduct

At the June 22 Public Meeting to hear the Request for Reconsideration filed by Mel’s Convenience owner Dan MacIsaac, a resident asked whether Councillor Terry Bernard and Councillor Mike Duffy had violated the Council Code of Conduct bylaw.

The resident informed Council that Counc. Bernard had written a letter on City letterhead informing his wardʼs constituents about the St Peters Rd roundabout (a provincial matter), but failed to mention Melʼs rezoning application, a municipal matter and the subject of the Request for Reconsideration. In Counc. Duffyʼs case, he had expressed his voting intention on the Request for Reconsideration at an open Council meeting, which should have disqualified him from voting on the Reconsideration resolution.

Section 9. General Conduct
(b) Members of Council must be committed to performing their fucntions with integrity and to avoiding conflicts of interest and the improper use of the influence of their office
.

Cox & Palmer lawyer David Hooley, as legal counsel for the City of Charlottetown, was asked to provide a legal opinion. He deemed that both councillors were not in a conflict of interest. In other words, they had not contravened the Code of Conduct.

The information relating to both councillors can be found here (July 1 post, see hyperlinks in #5).


On Monday, July 12, Council met in a closed session at a Special Meeting of Council, where Councillor Mitchell Tweel was informed that he breached the Code of Conduct. The resolution, found on the last page of the July 12 Resolutions and Minutes file, does not specify the relevant section(s) of the Bylaw associated with the transgression, nor of any other City Bylaw.

According to The Guardian’s July 13 article, Tweel failed to attend 30 of the 32 Planning Board meetings held since last October, when the committees were restructured. Mayor Brown said when Tweel brought up concerns [in 2020] about his family business connections, senior administration asked its legal counsel, Karen Campbell, to look into the matter. She found no conflict of interest.

The way the article was written, the Mayor didn’t quite follow the order of the complaint and resolution process: “That’s when an independent third-party human resources investigator was brought in. The investigator’s report found Tweel to be in breach of the city’s code of conduct. […] Brown said the city then offered to bring in a mediator. Duffy declined, so the matter went back to council […]”

The Code of Conduct Bylaw states:
25.8. If the matter is not satisfactorily resolved after the Mayorʼs facilitation […], the Mayor, with the assistance of the CAO, may appoint a mediator to attempt to resolve the matter.
26.1. Failing resolution by the Mayorʼs facilitation or mediation, the Mayor […] will appoint an independent investigator…

The Code of Conduct Bylaw does not list a councillorʼs obligations to attend a set number of committee meetings. Nor was such a requirement found in the Cityʼs Procedural Bylaw.


On July 19, this billboard was seen on the corner of Towers and Mount Edward roads.

Councillor Greg Rivard was the Chair of the Planning & Heritage Committee from January 2019 to mid-October 2020.

In February 2020, CBC posted an article about a new development, quoting APM owner Tim Banks that it “goes before the city’s planning board on March 2.” Ultimately, what has become known as Sherwood Crossing was presented to the Planning Board on August 4. A public meeting was held on August 26.

The Planning Department presented its report, including feedback received from citizens, at the September 8 Planning Board meeting. Councillor Julie McCabe made motion for a deferral, because the traffic study commissioned by the City and involving the development had not been received. The vote was tied 4–4. The only time a Chair can vote is to break a tie. Councillor Rivard voted against the deferral.

A discussion then took place about the traffic study. Planning Manager Alex Forbes suggested that Council could request a deferral, thereby signalling his desire that the application be recommended to Council for approval. Councillor Rivard brushed Resident member Rosemary Herbertʼs concerns away too, stating that “if the information is not there [in the meeting package] to support the motion, then Council has every right to defer…” at the Monday meeting.

In January 2021, Greg Rivard joined RE/MAX Charlottetown as a licensed realtor. He recently became the listing agent for Tim Banksʼs Sherwood Crossing development [Note: IRAC appeal still ongoing].

Future of Charlottetown contacted Greg Rivard about the perceived conflict of interest and received this reply by e-mail: “I was contacted apprx 3 weeks ago by representatives of Killam/APM asking if I would be interested in listing the properties through myself and Remax. I contacted my own solicitor as well as the City solicitor and asked them to review prior to accepting the offer.  I was cleared with no conflict concerns.”


Four councillors, four different situations, three cleared by the Cityʼs legal counsel, and one penalized after an investigation that cost $6K determined he didn’t attend 30 committee meetings.


Recent goings-on at City Hall

June 28 Special Meeting of Council

The agenda was quite packed for a Special Meeting of Council. The focus in this post is on:
4. e)  Planning Report and Resolutions: i. Angus Drive / St. Peters Road Reconsideration

The outcome of the rezoning application Request for Reconsideration resolution was published after second reading on July 5 in The Guardian. During the meeting, City Planner Laurel Palmer Thompson mentioned the letters received for and against the rezoning reconsideration: “… something like 27 letters in support, and something like 7 letters in opposition. They were all included in the package.”
[Note: letter = email]

The Public Meeting (June 22) package contained 4 letters from businesses in favour of the reconsideration, and 1 letter from a resident against (pages 66–73). A supplementary package contained letters received from June 16 to 22 with 2 letters in support and 3 letters in opposition. This adds up to 6 letters in support and 4 in opposition, nowhere near the approximately 27 and 7 mentioned by Thompson.

Thus began a series of e-mails to the Planning Department to enquire (a) about the missing letters and (b) the absence of Special Meeting of Council meeting packages online.

The response from the City’s Records Management Clerk to (b) was: “At this time, the City does not post Special Meeting of Council packages on our website. As per the Municipal Government Act of PEI [Section 121], the City is only required to publish a notice (agenda) on the website and post a copy of the notice at a location at City Hall where it may be seen by the public; at least 24 hours before the time of the meeting.”

The response to (a) was that the missing letters were included in the Special Meeting of Council package.

A follow-up question was sent to the Planning Department: “Would it be possible to create another document with those letters and file it under 2021 Public Meeting Packages?”

Reply from the Planning Department: “Since these letters were included in the package for Council’s special meeting and are not available online at this time, I have added the document with these additional letters (received after June 22) under 2021 Public Meeting packages.” Thank you!

An analysis of the document found that it contained twenty-four letters/e-mails, which varied in length and content. While nineteen expressed support for the roundabout, only one referred to the reconsideration request and only one other mentioned the rezoning application. Fifteen of the writers live on the east side of St Peters Rd (i.e. Oakland Estates subdivision). The five who expressed their opposition, and their reasons, referred to the request for reconsideration on the rezoning application.

The City—and the Province—did an extremely poor job handling this rezoning application and the request for reconsideration, leaving no room for a fair and reasonable discussion among citizens to work together on a solution that could have united and appeased residents on both sides of St Peters Road. It is no surprise that the messy process ended on such a discordant note, leaving a number of residents bitter and in anguish … and one businessman laughing all the way to the bank.


July 5 Special Meeting of Council

Another busy agenda that included the second reading of a revised rezoning resolution for a lot on Angus Drive and a lot on St Peters Road (both from Residential to Parking – housing crisis, anyone?), the “Marshfield Annexation” (closed session, IRAC involved, postponed to Monday), and verbatim requests, a topic of interest since late April.

4 f)  Verbatim Requests of Council Meetings

CAO Peter Kelly has proposed ending the decades-long practice of verbatim account requests. What does this mean?

A verbatim account is a word-for-word transcript of a debate or a discussion — in part of in full — between two or more individuals during a Council or a committee meeting. A verbatim account request can be made, for instance, by the Planning Department (e.g. IRAC hearing) or by a councillor.

Mr Kelly stated that most municipalities do not provide verbatim minutes of meetings. That is probably true because minutes, by their very definition, are “a summarized record of the proceedings at a meeting” (Oxford).

Mayor Brown also used the term ‛verbatim minutesʼ, an oxymoron, because meeting minutes are meant to record resolutions, actions, decisions and votes.

I would argue that meeting minutes and an excerpt of a debate are not one and the same.

The twenty-minute discussion was rather revealing.

Councillor Jankov raised the issue early on about the poor quality of the sound recording equipment and proposed deferring a vote.

Councillor Duffy lead the charge on ending the practice, asserting that anyone with five minutes of training can type up their own verbatim accounts, and that the live closed captioning (CC) option is ideal for people with a hearing problem. Key problem: CC does not identify who is speaking. Also, the text just runs on … so if two people speak at the same time, you can imagine how much sense the words make. And, every now and then, a sentence is not captured, to the detriment of a non-hearing reader.

Councillor Tweel, who has made the most requests for verbatim accounts, defended the practice.

Later, Duffy stated that itʼs not a question of a verbatim account request being handled, but who will do it. Is this contradicting Mr Kellyʼs goal to abolish to practice?

Mayor Brown can talk about this Council being open, transparent and accountable, but is it really if it excludes people living with a vision or hearing or reading disability?

In the end, the motion was to defer a vote until after better audio equipment is installed. (What about video?)

Below are a few examples of CC screen shots taken during the video recording of this meeting:

Urban renewal: What is a compact city?

Across cultures, over thousands of years, people have traditionally built places scaled to the individual. It is only in the last three generations that we have scaled places to the automobile.1

Cities and towns are meant to strengthen human social connections, enhance economic efficiencies, and promote well-being and community. Communities thrive in cities where the built environment is designed with people in mind. Public spaces should be universally accessible and as safe and inclusive as possible. Roads are public spaces.

Promoting compact land use is a way to reduce the expense of constructing and maintaining roads, sewers, and other public works while also increasing property values in the community. Compact land use enhances the walkability of a community and fosters a stronger sense of place.

1 https://www.strongtowns.org/the-growth-ponzi-scheme/


Walking is the most democratic way to get around.

The truth is, however, that all of the infrastructure in Charlottetown is designed for motor vehicles. Cars have become such a pervasive presence that we now find ourselves living and working in places that do more to serve the needs of cars than of people.  The result is that pedestrian connections cater to vehicles, because it is assumed that anyone who lives or visits here can drive. Over the past couple of decades, humans have become secondary to cars in urban planning and design.

A COMPACT CITY helps make a community walkable, decreases automobile dependence, and supports a socially vibrant public realm. It incorporates proximity, connectivity, mobility, accessibility, and nature in the urban built environment context.

  • Proximity is the degree of integration of businesses, homes, and recreation opportunities within walking distance of each other. This leads to:
  • Connectivity: As connectivity improves, travel distances decrease and walkable/cyclable route options increase. This encourages:
  • Mobility: The availability of potential destinations together makes walking and cycling a more competitive and attractive mode of travel to other options. Combine this with:
  • Public transportation: Public transit serves more people at a lower cost, lower land use, and greater benefits. This improves:
  • Accessibility: The current lack of environmental accessibility faced by people with disabilities presents a major challenge. “If you make things accessible for all, you automatically make things easier for everyone.” And every community has a right to:
  • Green Space/Nature: What is being done to protect the natural environment of the urban area? A city’s under appreciated green assets are quietly making oxygen, absorbing pollutants, sponging up storm water, and controlling erosion.  The economic benefits of protecting nature now outweigh those of exploiting it.

Could Charlottetown become a compact city?
Or is it one already?

Related posts

Water connects us all

In a world divided by race, tribe, gender, religion and so much more, it is easy to forget that water connects us all. The molecules of H2O that comprise 60 per cent of each of us have circulated across space and time throughout the ages. They move through the air, the trees, birds and bees, and through you and me – and may have quenched a dinosaurʼs thirst so very long ago.

So, yes, there is hope. It is that we will come to know that the soft rain and flowing water are undeserved but precious gifts of life – gifts to be shared among all living things. And that this knowing will unite us in humbly taking our place in the planetʼs great cycles with respect for all that is, has ever been, and ever will be.

Sandra Postel
Director of the Global Water Policy Project
Freshwater Fellow with the National Geographic Society

Excerpt from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

Update (9): St Peters Rd/Angus Dr

After an initial 8-1 vote in April to reject the resolution for Mel’s Convenience store/gas station owner Dan MacIsaacʼs rezoning application, several councillors did an about-face and voted to rescind that resolution at a Special Meeting of Council on Monday, 28 June 2021 (video-recording starts here), with a 6–3 vote. This means that Mr MacIsaac’s Request for Reconsideration was accepted and a new, slightly modified, resolution for the rezoning application was approved, and passed first reading the same evening.

The two most vocal speakers at this Special Council meeting were Councillors Mitchell Tweel (speaking for the residents of the Angus Drive neighbourhood) and Terry Bernard (speaking in favour of the roundabout).

Highlights

  1. Councillor Mitchell Tweel raised a Point of Order to question the validity and legality of the June 23 public meeting: If the applicant for the Request for Reconsideration was Mel’s Convenience owner Dan MacIsaac, why was the Province (Stephen Yeo) at the meeting and why was he allowed to make a presentation about the $20-million St Peters Road project?
  2. Before allowing lawyer David Hooley to respond to Tweel’s Point of Order, Mayor Brown put Planner Laurel Thompson on the spot by asking her to justify Yeoʼs presence at the public meeting.
  3. Lawyer David Hooley responded to Tweelʼs question about the legality of the public meeting without really answering it, with Mayor Brown interjecting rather aggressively several times.
  4. Councillor Terry Bernard brought up “the importance of the roundabout (as explained by the Province), and that was new information” (hence Council accepting the Request for Reconsideration). He also asked for clarification about a resident who called his integrity into question during the public meeting because of a letter he had written to inform his constituents about the roundabout without mentioning the rezoning application.
  5. Lawyer David Hooley stood again to give a legal opinion on the letter written by Bernard, and certain remarks made by Councillor Mike Duffy, both of whom were subject to disqualification from a vote on the Request for Reconsideration by being in a conflict of interest, according to information provided by Angus Drive resident Patty Good at the June 22 public meeting. Hooley’s response: “In our opionion, these two individuals are not disqualified from participating in this process… The acid test is councillors need to maintain an open mind until they get to the final decision… You are also required to not prejudge, and I did not see any evidence of prejudgement in the letter, I did not see any evidence of prejudgement in Counc. Duffyʼs remarks… In our opinion, they are not in conflict…” [= Two votes in favour of Dan MacIsaacʼs rezoning application].
  6. Councillor Greg Rivard (also the Chair of the Protective and Emergency Services Standing Committee) said he spoke with someone at the Fire Department about various scenarios concerning emergency services, and how the presence or absence of a roundabout would affect their response time. In a court of law, this would be considered hearsay. In any case, the opinion or expertise of the Fire Department was not sought for this rezoning application.
  7. Councillor Julie McCabe responded to Rivardʼs concern by saying that he made some good points but it really is a provincial issue, one that the Province should be thinking about.
  8. With talk about safety on St Peters Road, Councillor Tweel asked why no one had considered the safety of the residents living on Angus Drive (and Short Street), residents who had been, time and again, against this rezoning application.
  9. A fifteen-minute back and forth between Councillors Bernard and Tweel ensued, who were obviously in disagreement with each otherʼs points of view [Mayor Brownʼs subtle agreement heard at 1:43:02 while Bernard spoke].
  10. Councillor Bob Doiron voiced his opinion that other options surely must exist that would eliminate the need for vehicles arriving/departing Melʼs from using Angus Drive.
  11. Tweel agreed with Doiron and questioned why the City didn’t do its own due diligence to solicit a couple of engineers to ask them to …, and without getting to the end of his question, the Mayor jumped right in and said “It’s not our road [St Peters].” To which Tweel replied: “That’s right it’s not our road, itʼs two separate issues, and that’s how the residents feel.”
  12. Mayor Brown repeated again that the resolution states “… in order to facilitate road upgrades” without specifying what those upgrades are. Planner Laurel Thompson reiterated that safety is the primary reason for the new access road.

It appears to be quite evident that the Province (in the person of Chief Engineer Stephen Yeo) designed the roundabout at Angus Drive to accommodate Dan MacIsaac’s desire for an additional access route to his business (Melʼs Convenience store).

Because, why else would the provincial chief engineer state that there is no other option but to have an exit and entrance on Angus Drive — precisely where Mr MacIsaac has his lots that heʼs been wanting to consolidate to expand his business — otherwise the roundabout cannot be constructed?


Second reading of the rezoning application resolution is scheduled to take place at another Special Meeting of Council on Monday, July 5, 2021 (agenda, which also includes the item Marshfield annexation). The second reading is a formality. Once passed, the final recourse for the Angus Drive residents would be to file an appeal with IRAC by no later than 21 days following Councilʼs approval.