Update (8): St Peters Rd/Angus Dr

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?

Particularly worth listening to: Angus Drive residents Laura Morgan and Patty Goode.


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
2.3. Vision
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.

APPENDIX A
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).

CBC report: “Those for and against Angus Drive access road have their say again

Ten Commandments for Changing the World

Written by Angela Bischoff and Tooker Gomberg for The Citizenʼs Handbook

Changing the world is a blast. Itʼs all the more achievable if you have some basic skills, and lots of chutzpah. With apologies to Moses, and God, here are our top Ten Commandments For Changing the World. Try them out on your issue. Have fun!

But first, some inspiration from Noam Chomsky: “If you go to one demonstration and then go home, thatʼs something, but the people in power can live with that. What they canʼt live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time.”

1. You Gotta Believe
Have hope, passion and confidence that valuable change can and does happen because individuals take bold initiative.

2. Challenge Authority
Donʼt be afraid to question authority. Authority should be earned, not appointed. The “experts” are often proven wrong, they used to believe that the earth was flat! You don’t have to be an expert to have a valuable opinion or to speak out on an issue.

3. Know the System
The system perpetuates itself. Use the tools you have; the telephone is the most underrated. The Internet can be of great value for research as well. Learn how decisions are made. How is the bureaucracy structured? Who are the key players? What do they look like? Where do they eat lunch? Go there and talk with them. Get to know their executive assistants. Attend public meetings.

4. Take Action
Do something, anything is better than nothing. Bounce your idea around with friends, and then act. Start small, but think big. Organize public events. Distribute handbills. Involve youth. Itʼs easier to ask for forgiveness after the fact rather than to ask for permission. Just do it! Be flexible. Roll with the punches and allow yourself to change tactics mid-stream. Think laterally. Don’t get hung-up on money matters; some of the best actions have no budget.

5. Use the media
Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper are read by thousands. Stage a dramatic event and invite the media; they love an event that gives them an interesting angle or good photo. Bypass the mainstream media with email and the world wide web to get the word out about your issue and to network.

6. Build Alliances
Seek out your common allies such as other community associations, seniors, youth groups, labour, businesses, etc. and work with them to establish support. The system wins through Divide and Conquer, so do the opposite! Network ideas, expertise and issues through email lists. Celebrate your successes with others.

7. Apply Constant Pressure
Persevere; it drives those in power crazy. Be as creative as possible in getting your perspective heard. Use the media, phone your politicians, send letters and faxes with graphics and images. Be concise. Bend the Administrationʼs ear when you attend public meetings. Take notes. Ask specific questions, and give a deadline for when you expect a response. Stay in their faces.

8. Teach Alternatives
Propose and articulate intelligent alternatives to the status quo. Inspire people with well thought-out, attractive visions of how things can be better. Use actual examples, whatʼs been tried, where and how it works. Do your homework, get the word out, create visual representations. Be positive and hopeful.

9. Learn From your Mistrakes
Youʼre going to make mistakes; we all do. Critique — in a positive way — yourself, the movement, and the opposition. What works, and why? What isnʼt working? What do people really enjoy doing, and do more of that.

10. Take Care of Yourself and Each Other
Maintain balance. Eat well and get regular exercise. Avoid burn-out by delegating tasks, sharing responsibility, and maintaining an open process. Be sensitive to your comrades. Have fun. As much as possible, surround yourself with others (both at work and at play) who share your vision so you can build camaraderie, solidarity and support. Enjoy yourself, and nourish your sense of humour. Remember: you’re not alone!

So there you have it. Tools for the Evolution. You can easily join the millions of people around the world working towards ecological health and sustainability just by doing something. With genuine effort, and some luck, a sustainable future may be assured for us and the planet. Go forth and agitate. 

If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that’s something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can’t live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time.

Noam Chomsky

PUBLIC MEETING 27 April: New building at 199 Grafton Street

On April 18, a concerned resident wrote:

I found a notice taped to the side my community mailbox on Prince Street about this Public Meeting yesterday.

It took a lot of effort to find this notice on the City’s website – not in News and Events and barely visible at the bottom of the small square for April 27 on the meeting calendar due to other postings for that date.

This is a big building and has potential to set trends downtown yet again.  Going for many height and setback variances.  When you read the Planning Board meeting, the only rationale I could see (so far) that he [developer] is giving for the extra bonus height is … ‘housing’ (on top of a parkade which was the main selling point in his news release).

If you want to read exactly what is written on the lime green notice, it is now available under Upcoming Events on the City’s home page.

To quote/paraphrase Dave Meslin: “The City of Charlottetown clearly doesn’t want you involved with the planning process, otherwise their ads would look something like this [below], with all the information laid out clearly. As long as the city’s putting out notices like [above] to try to get people engaged, then of course people aren’t going to be engaged. But that’s not apathy; that’s intentional exclusion.” 

A clear, comprehensible, and inviting public meeting notice.

Following Meslins example, homeowners created their own sign in an attempt to inform neighbouring residents, many of whom are tenants.

A clear, comprehensible, and inviting public meeting notice.

If a homeowner can provide such a clear, comprehensible, and inviting public meeting notice, why cant the Planning Department?


The full meeting package (49 pages) contains APMʼs Site Specific Exemption application with drawings and images, the letter sent to property owners located within 100 metres of the subject property, and copies of the public notices (posters and newspaper ad). A separate folder contains letters received until today, with likely more added after the public meeting.

If you decide to see and hear what the plans are for 199 Grafton, tune in on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be streamed live at www.charlottetown.ca/video

Public Meeting: West Royalty Transportation Master Plan

Background

The words “traffic study” and “traffic master plan” were used interchangeably last year during the North of Towers, a.k.a. Sherwood Crossing, rezoning application meetings. Despite requests by citizens for a copy of the traffic study, the City consistently refused, partly on the grounds that the two were not connected, partly because it would call a public meeting in future. In a 6–3 City Council vote on December 14, 2020, the rezoning application for the future Killam/APM development located within the traffic study area was approved.

On April 13, the City announced that the Public Works department is hosting a public consultation on Monday, April 26 at the Homburg Theatre (Confederation Centre of the Arts). The purpose is to provide prepare a final West Royalty Commercial Area Transportation Master Plan based on public input received during a one-meeting, two-hour ‛consultation processʼ.

When a slide presentation of the traffic study was released to the public in February, it bore the title SDU & Area Vacant Lands—Transportation Master Plan.

In March, when the Draft Final Report posted on the City’s website, it was renamed West Royalty Commercial Area—Transportation Master Plan.

What is a Transportation Master Plan [TMP]?

It is a document that guides a municipality’s transportation investment and activities, and typically uses a strategic framework that incorporates the Cityʼs vision, feedback from the community, and an analysis of transportation challenges and opportunities.

The City of Courtenay, B.C., (2016 pop. 54,157) presents an excellent example with its completed 2019 Transportation Master Plan.

Transportation … or Traffic?

The Transportation Master Plan document created by CBCL, whose mission“is to provide world-class engineering and environmental services” (no Transportation Planning in its list of ‛Solutionsʼ), states the following in the Executive Summary:

Note fourth line: ‛to forecast the growth of vehicular travel demand’

Nearly 35 pages are filled with details of the traffic analysis zones and roughly 40 pages with traffic data.

What about other modes of transportation?

Section 4.2. Active Transportation: “AT design focused on the human experience will positively influence mode choice among residents and visitors, and help to reduce the negative effects of a transportation system dominated by motorized vehicles.”

Section 4.3. Transit: “Future roadways and development site plans within the study area should be designed with transit connectivity in mind include adequate lighting and signage at stops; safe, comfortable shelters; and good active transportation connections.”

Section 4.4. entitled Sherwood Residential Area appears to have been added to soothe local residentsʼ fears about increased traffic. (Not a joke.)

The cover letter to Scott Adams, Manager of Public Works, states:

CBCL Limited (CBCL) is pleased to present the findings of this comprehensive study of vacant lands adjacent to the main commercial area of Charlottetown. We understand there is increasing pressure from several property owners, primarily north and east of the Charlottetown Mall, to obtain City approval to move forward with various development plans. The main objective of this Transportation Master Plan is to assist City staff by providing strategies for future development and street connections to the existing road network needed to support this growth.

Posted: April 19, 2021 | Last Updated: April 22, 2021

TED Talk: The Antidote to Apathy

A few years ago someone sent me the link to a TED Talk video that Dave Meslin, a local organizer based in Toronto, presented in 2010. It is still incredibly valid today.

“Apathy as we think we know it doesn’t actually exist,” said Meslin. “People do care, but we live in a world that actively discourages engagement by constantly putting obstacles and barriers in the way.”

Barriers such as the ones below:

At a short seven minutes, I encourage you to watch this video and to share it widely.

Comments are always welcome!

UPDATE (2): St Peters Road/Angus Dr

On April 5, I wrote a post explaining the Planning Board’s role in the planning and development process; and that the Board’s meeting agenda on April 6 would include the St Peters Road rezoning application.

Citizens may appreciate the fact that the meetings are live-streamed and archived. The major drawback is that viewers are unable to see the presentations (except when Cisco Webex is used), leaving them in the dark as to what those in the room are seeing. What is the City waiting for to upgrade its video technology?

Planning Board meeting: April 6

Despite that drawback, the Planning Board video-recording (go to minute 35:20) is well worth listening to, if only because it demonstrates once again that residents’ comments are trivialized. In a presentation and discussion that lasts 23 minutes, a scant minute (37:15–37:58) is devoted to listing the objections of “mainly area residents”. No mention is made of their suggestions, however.

So when the entire discussion is focussed on traffic, when the concluding sentence by the planner is “we feel that in the interest of the public, this is the best option” (40:55), when the objective is clearly to accommodate a retail business’s expansion (letʼs call it what it is), when public money is being used to construct a vehicle-only-friendly roundabout to enable that expansion, it is clear that both the Province and the City are less than willing to consider viable alternatives in favour of the people living in the community.

Call to action

If you want the City of Charlottetown and the Provincial Government to start thinking about the people who live here instead of the vehicles driving through, please write to your councillor, the mayor, your MLA, and Premier King (see Links for contact information).

Regular Meeting of Council: April 12

The Planning Board’s recommendation to proceed with the rezoning application will be discussed at the Regular Meeting of Council on Monday, April 12 (starts at 5 p.m.). At time of writing, the Monthly Council Meeting package has not been made public.


Meeting moments of interest
→ 39:00 : Planner describing “mitigative measures” and “safety issue”
→ 43:35 : Exchange between Councillor McCabe and Planning Board Chair Duffy
→ 50:20 : Exchange between Coun. McCabe and Planner about Mel’s further expansion in future
→ 51:18 : Manager of Planning Mr Forbes on provincial control of St Peters Road
→ 52:10 : Coun. McCabe question “How many times has this application been before Council?”
→ 53:22 : Planning Board Chair Duffy and the “Fairness Factor”
→ 55:20 : Manager of Planning Mr Forbes and the “complicated traffic-related issue”

P.S. Heavens to Betsy, if I had a dollar for every time someone in Planning or Council said: “I’m not a traffic engineer” !

A fine example of citizen engagement

I chanced upon this article a few days ago. It highlights the way in which concerned individuals can unite and present their requests to their local government for transparency in governance processes and procedures.

Despite the pandemic, citizens deserve open, transparent government. 

Coalition of citizens, associations and nonprofits

Full text below:

Commentary: New year resolution: a transparent Sonoma County Board of SupervisorsMar 19, 2021

Editor’s Note: The following was a letter sent to the Board of Supervisors by a coalition of citizens, associations and nonprofits in early January, and recently shared with us.

We are writing to you because we are gravely concerned that the Sonoma County Board of Supervisor (BoS) appears to be moving toward less transparency rather than inclusion.

To begin addressing the issue, we respectfully request:

1) The Board of Supervisors form a Transparency Committee to ensure ease of public access to county documents, information, departments and the internet. This is particularly needed in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic; the board give direction to staff that public access is not to be unduly limited due to the pandemic; the board make its processes transparent and public friendly, as is required by law.

2) That all agenda items and key issues coming before the Board be made available to all board members at the same time they are provided to the chair; that preliminary agenda topics be available and posted with accurate descriptions on the county website and, where requested, available via the U.S Postal Service.

3) That the Ad Hoc Committee work of the board be recognized and open to the public. Ad Hoc Committees should have an expiration date when established, and have their single purpose described. They cannot be perpetual committees under the Brown Act.

4) That the Local Coastal Plan update, planning ordinance updates, and any consideration of major changes in the processes of the county (e.g. changes in terms of the chair) be postponed until public meetings are allowed. There appears to be no urgency that would require a Zoom update, recognizing that public input is necessary to make informed public decisions.

Despite the pandemic, citizens deserve open, transparent government.

The Santa Rosa City Council in December voted to approve a transparent government proposal that has labored through subcommittee and council consideration for six years. The impetus was mass public demonstrations against the shooting of teenager Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy. The Council recognized that openness in government makes for a happier, more informed citizenry and better decision making.

On Dec. 6, on short notice, an agenda item was placed on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda proposing that board chairs be elected for two years instead of one, beginning when the incoming chairperson begins their term. This proposal could have been approved before supervisor-elect Chris Coursey would take his seat. Thanks to Executive Officer Sheryl Bratton, the move was tabled until supervisor Coursey could join his colleagues and participate in a decision that will affect our future governance structure.

Traditionally, board members have each served one-year terms as chair of the board. The chairperson ran meetings and tended to ceremonial duties. Now, however, the chairperson has the power to select, or not, agenda items for weekly meetings. This limits the opportunity for an individual supervisor to agendize items concerning their own district, or in many instances, be aware of agenda Items in advance.

Rotation of the chair and vice chair promotes leadership, transparency, legitimacy, and helpful transitions into new leadership. It also provides representation for all five districts in a five-year cycle. Perhaps it would be wise to first research other counties that use the two-year chair system. We have been able to identify only California Charter Counties that have two-year chairmanships at this time.

Hopefully, this recent effort to instate a two-year chair term is not part of a new board ethic that limits publicly available information or input. There are, however, other instances where public input appears to be more limited than under prior boards:

Meetings categorized as “ad hoc” — small, focused meetings on specific topics not requiring disclosure — are used to “streamline” a process or provide greater efficiency, but have created a closed system that shuts out the public.

For example, after work done by an ad hoc committee, the BoS on Dec. 9 approved what many believe to be looser environmental regulations for Vineyard and Orchard Site Development (VESCO). Driven by increasing problems from storm events, VESCO was established to limit erosion impacts of hillside vineyard or orchard development and other environmental infractions through environmental performance standards.

Unlike interaction with industry leaders, outreach and engagement with downstream neighbors, environmental groups and agency representatives was limited to one pre-pandemic “stakeholder” meeting.

“Technical difficulties” may explain limitations for citizens attempting to make public comment during this era of Zoom, but it was problematic that several industry representatives were able to make statements in favor of the VESCO amendments, while a number of other speakers were unable to be recognized.

Similarly, replacing the General Manager (GM) of the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (AOSD) was initially an item on the board’s consent calendar for their sole consideration and approval. It was only after public outcry that the process was opened to public input. This concern regarding leadership comes in part because funding for the AOSD relies on a favorable ballot vote of the people.

A supervisor was recently cited for conflict of interest by concerned citizens for his role in promoting cannabis industry interests. He had been involved in undisclosed meetings with industry lobbyists. The Board of Supervisors will soon be considering extensive changes to the cannabis ordinance making full citizen involvement timely and part of the legally established process for government decision-making.

Our Local Coastal Plan (LCP) Update has been crafted by Permit Sonoma without what was formerly routine public access to staff. All past Coastal Plan Updates have had Citizen Advisory Groups and planned citizen input. The county now states the intention to hold Zoom “workshops” for the public on select LCP topics. It should be noted that many citizens, especially in remote areas along the coast, may not have the technical capacity to participate.

Additionally, basic access to county business is limited by certain processes, such as not releasing the BoS meeting agendas and supporting packets until the Friday before Monday or Tuesday hearings. That leaves little time for the public to research, digest and prepare for participation.

While staff reports and recommendations are to be submitted to the chair four weeks in advance, only the chair sees the preliminary agenda. Other supervisors may not know key issues until the end of the week before a Monday or Tuesday hearing. All supervisors should have access to the agenda and preliminary information at the same time, as part of their preparation for the meeting/hearing. The county website has poor navigation and no site map — even when documents are updated and available, they may be impossible to find. BOS-written minutes often take months to appear, so that it’s hard to find the result of board votes.

All of these internalized obstacles to public participation are exacerbated by the pandemic. Meetings are held privately, electronically. Public documents are unavailable for perusal without an appointment and are sometimes simply unavailable despite the public’s legal rights. It is increasingly necessary to access information that was once readily available via requests through a Public Records Act.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased limitations to the county’s important functions and decisions at a time when concerns about government are heightened. While recognizing that business must continue during the pandemic, the county should work doubly hard to ensure public access.

Thank you for considering the ways the County of Sonoma can improve transparency in governances process and procedures, even as we battle pandemic conditions.

We all benefit from open government. Please do not hesitate to reach out for our support and collaboration.

Sincerely,
(List of signatories)