Participatory Democracy

Local government is the sphere of government closest to the people. Many basic services are delivered by local municipalities, and local ward councillors are the politicians closest to communities.

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.

Participatory democracy is a necessary complement to representative democracy.

David Moscrop, Canadian author

International Observatory on Participatory Democracy

The International Observatory on Participatory Democracy (IOPD) is an international network open to all cities, organizations, and research centres interested in learning about, exchanging, and applying experiences of participatory democracy at the local level.

The IOPD recently held its annual Conference with a focus on sustainable cities/territories. It will also host three two-hour virtual sessions from November 29 to December 1, 2021, in collaboration with United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).

The virtual sessions on Zoom start at 10 A.M. Atlantic time with translation in English/French/Spanish.

To register for any of the three sessions, click here.

  1. Monday, November 29: Citizen Participation in Ecological Transformation
    Local governments must play a key and pioneering role in the ecological transformation of our societies, and citizens cannot be only spectators in this process. In this session we want to share experiences and the steps to follow in order to foster government-citizen dialogue and the co-creation of solutions for the ecological transition.
  2. Tuesday, November 30: Revisiting local democracy
    The impact of the pandemic on democratic institutions and procedures has added to the problems and crises already being felt by democracies. In this new session we want to think about ways to revitalise local democracy such as citizens’ assemblies or other forms of deliberation by lottery, online participation tools, and the debate around digital rights.
  3. Wednesday, December 1: Feminist municipalism and participatory democracy
    The global feminist municipalist movement is a key building block of a better normality towards a renewed local democracy. We want to open this space for dialogue where strategies for deploying feminism and participatory democracy in local politics converge.

More on this topic:

Towards a more age-friendly city

The City of Charlottetown recently held workshops to receive citizensʼ feedback to help it develop an action plan to make it an age-friendly city. An online questionnaire is also available (click here) until Saturday, November 20.

What is an age-friendly city/community?

According to the Government of Canada, “In an age-friendly community, the policies, services and structures related to the physical and social environment are designed to help seniors ‛age actively.ʼ In other words, the community is set up to help seniors live safely, enjoy good health and stay involved.”

History

In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a Global Age-Friendly Cities guide to help cities and communities to achieve this aim.

The introduction explains why it was developed: “Informed by WHO’s approach to active ageing, the purpose of this Guide is to engage cities to become more age-friendly so as to tap the potential that older people represent for humanity. An age-friendly city encourages active ageing by optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. In practical terms, an age-friendly city adapts its structures and services to be accessible to and inclusive of older people with varying needs and capacities.”

WHO also published a progress report in 2018 entitled Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities.

Age-friendly cities in Canada

Many municipalities across Canada have an Age-friendly Action Plan or an Age-friendly City Plan.

Help make Charlottetown an age-friendly city

You can help with Charlottetownʼs Age-friendly Action Plan by completing the online questionnaire.

The City of Charlottetown Seniors Engagement Committee is looking to hear from seniors on important issues and how to make Charlottetown more senior-friendly. All information gathered will be kept confidential and will contribute to the development of an age-friendly city.

The deadline is Saturday, November 20. Estimated completion time: 20 to 25 minutes.

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

Disturbing Facts About Killam/APM’s 
Sherwood Crossing Development Project (2)

Is the use of public funds justified?

In a series of unrelated steps, a majority of City councillors voted in favour of allocating public funds between 2020 and 2021 as follows:

  • $650,000 to build a new public road to connect Towers Road with Spencer Drive (Special Meeting of Council, 6 Feb. 2020, vote 6–0). This “public” road is part of the Charlottetown Mall parking lot; the mall is now wholly owned by Killam REIT and Tim Banksʼs Pan American Properties.
  • An additional $69,000 to perform a comprehensive traffic study of undeveloped lands adjacent to the main retail area of Charlottetown (Special Meeting of Council, 19 Mar. 2020, vote 9–0)
  • $550,000 to fund the purchase of two properties (241 and 245 Mount Edward Rd), which border Killam/RioCan/APM’s proposed Sherwood Crossing property, to make way for the Spencer Drive extension (which will cross Confederation Trail). In addition, the City’s Public Works Department will act as property manager for a two-year period [involving, at the least, maintenance costs]. (Monthly Meeting of Council, 8 Feb. 2021, vote 6–3).
  • An as-yet unknown amount for the future construction of the Spencer Drive extension to Mount Edward Road, of which a portion of the land is on the Killam/RioCan property and thus might be subject to sections 45.2.1. and 45.2.3. in the Zoning & Development Bylaw.

The Development Agreement drawn up for Pan American Properties, whose president is Tim Banks, includes the following clauses:

2.4. The Developer shall enter into a Roads and Services Agreement for the portion of public road to connect this development to Spencer Drive.

2.5. The developer shall deed to the City the future public road corridor as shown on the north boundary of the Master Plan at no cost to the City prior to the issuance of any building and development permits. Notwithstanding any existing or future by-law of the City, the City acknowledges that the Developer shall not be responsible to contribute to the cost of development of any public street to be constructed on the public road corridor, other than the portion referred to in Clause 2.4. hereof, unless the Developer creates an access to such public street from the property.

2.7. If subdivision approval is sought, then a final plan(s) of subdivision must be approved by the City and each individual lot must have frontage on a public street.

It therefore appears that City Council approved well over $1 million in public money for costs in and around Sherwood Crossing, some of which, by definition, seem to have been the developer’s responsibility.

The land owner is Killam Properties Inc, based in Halifax, an out-of-province Real Estate Investment Trust [REITs own, operate, or finance income-generating real estate], which already enjoys preferential financial/tax treatment.  Tim Banks is a founding member of Killam. Moreover, by including “affordable” units, Killam benefits from the province’s Affordable Housing Development Program, which provides forgivable loans of $45,000 per unit, with the loan forgiveness period ranging from 15 to 25 years. 


November 2020

CBC PEI: As for the project having to fall in line with the master traffic plan, Banks isnʼt worried. “There will be nothing in there that will surprise us,” he said.

THE GUARDIAN: There will also be a road built that links the neighbourhoods of Sherwood and West Royalty through a public link road. The road would connect Ash Drive, at Mount Edward Road, with Spencer Drive, taking some of the traffic pressure off Towers Road. “The new road network has provisions for a sidewalk and a biking lane and provides for a future link to other lands in the immediate area,” Banks said.

While there might have been nothing in the City’s transportation master plan to surprise Mr Banks, a Killam REIT director and owner/CEO of APM Construction, there certainly is plenty to cause anxiety to residents living in surrounding neighbourhoods.

It is fully in the interest of the public and the residents living in any community to be informed about any and all changes that may affect their quality of life in one, three, or even ten years from now.


UPDATES

1. The IRAC hearing LA21001 Don Read v. City of Charlottetown, held on 31 May 2021, is still awaiting a decision. The reasons for the appeal lies in the failure to fulfill Condition 1 out of the five conditions set forth by Council to approve the development.
Condition 1 requires that the Cityʼs [final] Traffic Master Plan (TMP) confirm that the development does not conflict with the proposed site plan.

2. Appeal LA21021 – Douglas MacArthur v. City of Charlottetown was received by IRAC on 15 September 2021.

The appeal was filed in the event the Request for Reconsideration submitted to the City was rejected.

City Council will vote on the Planning Boardʼs recommendation to reject Mr MacArthurʼs Request for Reconsideration (same reasons as the IRAC appeal) at the Regular Meeting of Council on Monday, November 8, 2021.

Mr MacArthur bases his appeal on Section 24 (3) of the Planning Act Absence of Approval. He states: “The land in question is also currently the subject of an IRAC rezoning appeal, hence there was absence of approvel for the necessary zoning of the land at the time (Aug.26) the site and foundation permits were approved by City Council. In short, the permits were approved even though the land in question did not have the necessary zoning in place to accommodate the proposed development and permit activity.”

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

Posted: Nov 06, 2021, 7:50 AM AT | Last Updated: Nov 08, 8:36 PM AT

City of Charlottetown: Upcoming events

1. Workshops for an Age-Friendly City

The Seniors Engagement Committee of the City of Charlottetown is launching a series of engagement workshops to obtain input and feedback from the senior and near senior population. The feedback collected will be used to assist in the development of an action plan for an age-friendly city for Charlottetown. An age-friendly community is one where policies, services, and structures are designed in particular to support and enable older people to live in a secure environment, enjoy good health, and continue to participate fully in their communities.

Dates and locations:

  1. Monday, November 1, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Malcolm J. Darrach Community Centre, 1 Avonlea Drive
  2. Wednesday, November 3, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at West Royalty Community Centre, 1 Kirkdale Road
  3. Thursday, November 4, from 9:00-11:00 a.m. at Holy Redeemer’s Jack Blanchard Family Centre, 7 Pond Street

Pre-registration is required: To register, call 902-368-1025 or email seniors@charlottetown.ca. Participants of the in-person engagement workshops must be fully vaccinated and bring proof of vaccination and a government photo ID to the session.

The online survey is now launched and can be found here:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/agefriendlycitycharlottetown
(No deadline provided)

More on this topic:


2. Short-term Rental Regulations

The City of Charlottetown is hosting a public meeting on Tuesday, November 9, at 7 p.m. at the Confederation Centre of the Arts to obtain feedback on the proposed short-term rental regulations.

To attend the meeting in person, you must reserve your seats. Details of the Notice of Meeting and discussion items are listed in the full meeting agenda.

Details of the process, draft regulations, and more are available here.

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

PUBLIC MEETING: October 26, 2021

Sherwood Crossing and 38 Palmers Lane

On Tuesday, October, 26, two properties will be subject to a public meeting – again.

1. Sherwood Crossing: Listed on the agenda as Corner of Towers Road and Mount Edward Road (PID # 390559, 390534, 390542).
This is a request for approval of the final architectural design drawings and site plan as per the Comprehensive Development Area (CDA) Zone provisions of the Zoning and Development Bylaw. The applicant has refined their building elevations for the proposed townhouses and are seeking input from the public on the building design before Council grants final approval. Council has previously approved the overall concept plan for this development and the only remaining Council approval at this time relates to the final design of the townhouses.

Much has been written about the controversy over the process surrounding the rezoning of the property — leading to an IRAC appeal in January — and the actual site and foundation permits approved by City Council on August 26, more than two months after APM Construction broke ground — leading to a second IRAC appeal in September.

The Planning Department has informed the appellants that “The public meeting on Tuesday night is to deal with some exterior design changes to the townhouse phase of this development only. The developer has all of the necessary approvals to proceed with the exception of the design change to the townhouses. Therefore, the only discussion on Tuesday night will relate to the change in design of the townhouse phase of this development.”

IRAC appellant #1 informed the Planning Department that “There should be no meeting and no further decisions or resolutions made in respect of this Development until the IRAC decisions on the appeals are delivered. To proceed in any other way is not in the public interest and makes a mockery of the planning appeals process.”

While IRAC appellant #2 noted that “It is unacceptable for City Council to limit public input at this public meeting.”

2. 38 Palmers Lane: City Council has once again decided to entertain consideration of a multi-unit project on this site:
The proposal is to construct two (2) townhouse dwellings consisting of a four (4) unit building and an eight (8) unit building on the property. The four (4)-unit townhouse is proposed to front on Palmers Lane and parking for this townhouse will be located at the rear of the building. The second townhouse building would be a stacked townhouse dwelling and is proposed to be constructed behind the four (4) unit townhouse.

City Council should already clearly know residents’ position on 38 Palmers Lane. Following a close vote by City Council in September 2019 to approve the rezoning — despite the Planning Department’s recommendation to reject it, a citizen filed an appeal with IRAC on behalf of sixteen neighbours.

The Commission is concerned with the argument advanced by the City – and, to a lesser extent, by the Developer – that the “housing crisis” is, in and of itself, a sound planning principle or an overriding principle in this case. When coupled with the Cityʼs plea for deference to Council, this argument ignores, or at least minimizes, the body of planning law that has developed in this province and requires adherence to sound planning principles.

IRAC Order LA20-04

In October 2020, IRAC overturned the rezoning approval, much to the residents’ relief (Order LA20-04). The 2019 proposal had been for 18 units. The current proposal is for 12 units.


The Public Meeting package contains all the details, plans, and images for the three projects to be discussed.

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 by phone at 902-629-4158. Anyone who
wants to observe the meeting without commenting can watch it at www.charlottetown.ca/video.


More on the topic:

Read the posts published in October on the Future of Charlottetown FB page.

Don’t have a FB account? Read the post in full in the Citizens Alliance newsletters: October 8, October 20, and October 24.

Posted: Oct 25, 2021, 10:31 AM AT | Last Updated: Oct 25, 2021, 6:30 PM AT

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

Please note that the opinions expressed are not necessarily those of New Charlottetown Project as a whole.

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

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