The public meeting on Tuesday, 22 June, was called to allow Melʼs Convenience owner Mr MacIsaac to present a Request For Reconsideration in an attempt to persuade City Council to reverse its original 12 April decision to reject the resolution that would have approved his rezoning application.
As a reminder, a Request for Reconsideration [Section 3.15 in the Zoning & Development Bylaw] is permitted when “the applicant or an aggrieved person feels that the decision is unjustified or unwarranted”. Furthermore, “Council shall give all interested persons an opportunity to be heard”.
During this public meeting, the first speaker was Mr MacIsaac, who was allowed to speak for fifteen minutes, starting with a bit of history, and admitting that its becoming a PEI Liquor Agency Store is what has made Melʼs so popular.
The next speaker was Stephen Yeo, the provinceʼs Director of Capital Projects, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. Was his participation necessary and a standard part of a rezoning application reconsideration process? The City clearly believed it was justified and, with Mr Yeoʼs introduction “that a few details werenʼt presented well enough” at the last public meeting, provided him with another opportunity to express the Provinceʼs rationale for constructing “better facilities” and “a better design or more efficient design”. Mr Yeo was allowed to speak for fourteen minutes on how a roundabout at Angus Drive will make driving easier, safer, faster, more efficient, and accommodate tens of thousands of vehicles.
Public participantsʼ contributions were limited to five minutes, with a large timer facing them that counted down the minutes and seconds. How nerve-wracking must this be for a person unaccustomed to speaking in public? Or for someone who may have spent hours composing their written comment, only to be cut off because it took more than five minutes (interruptions included) to read the entire text out loud?
The fact that East Royalty has expanded — according to its original concept of single-family houses — in recent years without a reliable public transit service has left residents with little choice but to rely on personal vehicles as their sole method of transportation.
The entire St Peters Road project is geared to favour motor vehicles. Indeed, the concerns about safety and efficiency disproportionately benefits drivers. In contrast, pedestrians, cyclists, and other active travellers are left with a fraction of the road space. The public transportation schedule is minimal with two runs in the morning to Charlottetown and two (?) runs in the evening to East Royalty.
Both the Province and the City continue to perpetuate a car-dominated vision with plans for more roads or wider roads. Why are cars still being prioritized? Drivers first, pedestrians and cyclists second? When will transportation planners and policy-makers make public transit/active travel more equitable and inclusive in Charlottetown and on PEI?
While Mr MacIsaac had his reasons to request a reconsideration of City Councilʼs decision to reject his rezoning application, the provinceʼs Transportation Department could have been more creative in proposing “better facilities” and “a better design or more efficient design” that would have benefitted all road users alike. Examples are not hard to find. Instead, a confuse-divide-and-conquer tactic was used that has left residents in two wards on opposing sides, with choices that really satisfied none of them.
As for City councillors, the majority has yet again failed to propose a more equitable share-the-road solution to promote mobility designed for people, not vehicles. In so doing, those councillors have sacrificed the well-being and safety of Charlottetown residents to advance the agenda of a business owner and the Department of Transportation.
The East Royalty Master Plan (pp. 93-155 in the Official Plan) was adopted in 2015. Just as the Charlottetown Official Plan was conceived in 1999 with a vision and strategic directions, so too was the East Royalty Master Plan. Just as the Official Plan has never fully been reviewed since its adoption, so too can one surmise that the East Royalty Master Plan has not been reviewed to take societal and (extreme) environmental changes into account.
In the intervening six years, global warming has accelerated to the point that countless cities have declared a climate emergency, the intent being to set priorities to mitigate climate change. Charlottetownʼs City Council voted unanimously on a resolution in 2019 that recognized and declared the climate breakdown an emergency, yet has implemented few significant measures to reduce CO2 emissions.
Nevertheless, the following sections from the East Royalty Master Plan specifically emphasize walking and the pedestrian experience:
2.0 THE EAST ROYALTY MASTER PLAN
Above all, East Royalty will incorporate best practices for sustainability and active transportation, leading to a community that promotes healthy lifestyles. Planning for the East Royalty Area will promote safe residential neighbourhoods that are planned based on the concept of RSVP – Resilient, Sustainable, Vibrant and Pedestrian-friendly.
Section 2.2 RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT
Residential development within the East Royalty Master Plan will include a variety of housing types that address the street and open spaces to enhance the pedestrian experience.
APPENDIX B. Design Guidelines
Section 2.1 ROADS Ensure pedestrian access throughout the community by providing sidewalks and trails throughout the community; and,
•Promote tree‐lined and well‐shaded streets to create sense of comfort and promote walking and cycling
Section 2.1.1 St. Peter’s Road/Arterial Roads
Arterial Roads will have minimum 1.8 metre bicycle lanes on both sides, as well as minimum 1.8 metre sidewalks on both sides.
2.2.2 Streetscaping for Transit
Seven points including:
Transit stops should be designed to offer amenities such as seating areas and weather protection. Benches and other roadside furniture such as waste baskets, bike racks, telephones, notice boards, newspaper boxes and refuse containers should be concentrated at bus stops along the main street collectors to maximize their utility and create active public space. [Wowza! Where are these dream stops?!]
A report and resolution on Dan MacIsaacʼs Request for Reconsideration is being held during the Special Meeting of Council, Monday, June 28, 2021 (agenda).