Is Mayor Brown in an ongoing conflict of interest? The public needs answers. 

Author: Doug MacArthur

Following is a summary of pertinent facts to consider re Mayor Philip Brown and his possible conflict of interest re APM et al. In addition to being mayor of Charlottetown, Mayor Philip Brown works with his family business [EB Brown Transport and Crane Services Inc and Atlantic Hy-Span Ltd] as a business accountant and public relations officer and director. His family business is a member of the Construction Association of PEI with Philip Brown listed as the EB Brown contact person.

Since becoming mayor, his family business has provided crane services to Tim Banks/APM on a number of projects, including the Blackbush Tracadie project in 2020 and APM projects in the city. When questioned on this, Tim Banks recently told CBC News “..the mayor’s crane shows up on our job sites, what are we supposed to do, wait until we can get one from the Irvings? It’s just doing business on a small island.” It should be noted that there are other PEI crane services providers besides EB Brown.

Despite his private business interests, Mayor Brown has not excused himself from City Hall development/planning/permit deliberations/decisions involving Tim Banks and/or APM and related companies. In fact, Mayor Brown has presided at various such City Council meetings, most recently in the City Council decision in late August to approve a footings permit for Killam/APM’s Sherwood Crossing project after other City officials had issued a Cease Construction Order to APM. Mayor Brown also vigorously contended that the 15 Haviland Killam/APM-proposed waterfront high-rise should be granted “as of right” without an opportunity for Council or public input. The 15 Haviland project does not even remotely qualify for “as of right” (without the need for additional approvals or amendments). He also contends that he doesn’t vote as mayor unless there is a tie. But he doesn’t mention that he sits and participates on every Council committee, including Planning Board, and has voting rights on all of them.

At an August 9th, 2021, Regular Monthly meeting of City Council, a councillor asked City Solicitor David Hooley what happens if a Council member has a conflict of interest and doesn’t declare it? What are the consequences? David Hooley replied that the consequences for a member who doesn’t declare a conflict of interest are serious, based on PEI’s Municipal Government Act. Mr Hooley noted that the consequences are also serious for the organization [i.e. City Council] because the person not declaring the conflict may taint the whole organization and require that the whole project approval process go back to Council again. This opinion by Mr Hooley should be a concern relating to Sherwood Crossing, and possibly other APM developments in which Mayor Brown has participated.

The Municipal Government Act (Section 96) is very clear.
(1) A council member is in a conflict of interest if, in relation to a matter under consideration by the council, the member or a person closely connected to the member
(a) has any pecuniary interest; ….
(2) A council member is in a conflict of interest if the member makes a decision or participates in making a decision in the execution of his or her office while at the same time the member knows or ought reasonably to know that the member’s private interests or the private interests of a person closely connected to the member affected the member’s impartiality in the making of the decision….
(3) A council member who is in a conflict of interest as described in subsection (1) or (2) shall
(a) declare the member’s interest in the matter before the council;
(b) remove himself or herself from the council meeting and any other meeting when the matter is discussed;
(c) abstain from the discussion and voting on the matter; and
(d) not attempt in any way, before, during or after a meeting, to influence the discussion or voting on any question, decision, recommendation or other action to be taken involving a matter in which the member has a conflict of interest.
(4) Subject to subsection (6), a member who fails to comply with clauses (3)(a) to (c) or who contravenes clause (3)(d) is disqualified from serving on council.”

Finally, although Future of Charlottetown has issues with Councillor Greg Rivard being the official real estate agent for Killam/APM’s Sherwood Crossing project, Councillor Rivard, to his credit, was quoted in a CBC interview last week as saying “I’ve stepped out of the room on any conversation because I’m in conflict,” he says. “Any discussion with regards to anything related to the developer, Tim Banks, any project that he comes forward with, I’m in conflict.”

Why shouldn’t Mayor Philip Brown have followed the same course and what, if anything, are the consequences for not doing so? Also, what are the City Solicitor’s responsibilities to advise City Council re this potentially serious conflict on the Mayor’s part and to protect the public interest, and what are the responsibilities of councillors in this matter? And what of the Province’s oversight role? The public needs answers.

Author: Doug MacArthur
Published Wednesday, 8 September 2021, on Future of Charlottetown Facebook page

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:

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.

Recent goings-on at City Hall

June 7: Special Meeting of Council

  1. Who bears the brunt of road resurfacing costs?

Moved by Councillor Terry MacLeod, Seconded by Councillor Mike Duffy
RESOLVED:
That, as per the conditions of the Tender for “2021 Street Resurfacing”, the submission of Island Construction Ltd. in the amount of $1,650,356.25 (plus all applicable taxes) be accepted,
And that, the Capital Budget for Street Resurfacing be increased by $555,387.50 to cover all the costs of Asphalt testing services, line painting and street resurfacing.
CARRIED 9-0

Video-recording: starts at 7:21


A 2016 blog post entitled Vehicle Weight vs Road Damage Levels states: “For the one dollar’s worth of damage that a car does to a road, a bicycle, travelling the same distance on the same road, would perpetrate $0.0005862 worth of damage.”

A 2021 blog post entitled Road Damage Fees and Profit asks: “Been on a road lately and noticed how absolutely busted it was? Have you also noticed how vehicles today are far larger than in the past? These two things go together because vehicle weight is the main factor that determines road damage.” The writer also corrects the chart used in the 2016 blog post, because even though vehicle weight is important, even more so is axle loading.


2. Plans for a year-round Victoria Park Roadway active transportation lane

Moved by Councillor Terry MacLeod, Seconded by Councillor Mike Duffy
RESOLVED:
That, as per the conditions of the Request for Proposal on “Engineering Services 2 –Victoria Park Roadway and Active Transportation Corridor”, the submission of EXP, in the amount of $41,482.00 (plus all applicable taxes) be accepted. It was noted that this proposal did not go throughthe Parks & Recreation Committee; therefore, it was moved by Councillor Bernard and seconded by Councillor Ramsay that the motion be deferred so the P&R Committee can review the matter.

DEFERRED 9-0
Video-recording: starts at 10:15


The good news: The City is exploring to have the active transportation corridor available year-round on the Victoria Park Roadway. But this is still in the planning stages, with Public Works Manager Scott Adams stating the goal will be present to three options to present to Council and the public for future planning.

The bad news: One of the options could be fitting in two car lanes, a bike lane, and maintaining the parking within the existing footprint (Scott Adams). It was rather mind-boggling to hear Counc. MacLeod say: “I think that our job is to try and present active transporation in all forms, right, whether itʼs walking, biking, or whether itʼs in the car, itʼs all shared services, right, and why shut off one any more than the other, right… ”


3. In whose pockets does the money from Affordable Housing Incentives really wind up in the end?

Mayor Brown welcomed Robert Zilke, Planning Development Officer, to the meeting and asked him to begin his presentation (27:55 worth listening to!).
Mr. Zilke noted that in September 2018, Council approved an Affordable Housing Incentive Program which outlines policy objectives and initiatives that the City would undertake to incentivize affordable housing in the community. Staff recently reviewed the current program and is recommending the following amendments:
– This Program is valid if and/or when the City’s vacancy rate as determined by CMHC’s Quarterly Market Survey1 is less than 3%.
– Property Tax incentive on all new affordable housing units is decreased from 20 years to 10 years:
90% municipal property tax in years 1-2
75% municipal property tax in years 3-4
60% municipal property tax in years 5-6
45% municipal property tax in Year 7-8
30% municipal property tax in Year 9-10
Mr. Zilke further noted that there are no changes to Zoning & Development By-law Incentives which include bonus density, parking requirement reduction and building permit fees exemptions.
There was discussion related to the 3% vacancy rate. Some Members indicated the threshold should be higher, between 3–5%.
It was stressed that the City does have an important role to play in the process for affordable housing; however, most of the financial support for affordable programs comes from the federal and provincial governments.
Mr. Zilke was thanked for his presentation and left the meeting at 6:38 PM.
Council to provide the CAO (Chief Administrative Officer Peter Kelly) with further direction in relation to the proposed 3% vacancy rate.

Video-recording: starts at 19:55

CAO Peter Kelly reminded Council that the current incentive program offers a property tax exemption of up to 100% for a period of up to 20 years. The City has approved the 144 housing units under this program and will therefore forego $4 million in taxes over those 20 years (and permit fees of $152,000). He concluded: “… and weʼre trying to go forward, Your Worship, being more realistic and affordable for the City”.

1 Does he mean the information found on CMHCʼs Housing Market Information Portal or the Rental Market Survey Data ? Either way, the most recent data is from October 2020, that is, at least nine months old at this time.


Tonight, starting at 7 PM, is the second public meeting for the Angus Drive/St Peters Rd roadworks. Watch live stream online.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disturbing Facts About Killam/APM’s 
Sherwood Crossing Development

Failure to fully inform the public

On 26 August 2020, the City held a public meeting to present the Killam/APM North of Towers development, now known at Sherwood Crossing.

During that meeting, APM president Tim Banks presented a traffic impact study he had commissioned for the development. The 8 September 2020 Planning Board meeting package states (p.17/280): The City is also currently undergoing a traffic study for the whole area and that would include recommendations or proposals with regards to this future road access [Spencer Drive].

The resolution to approve the APM North of Towers rezoning application was subject to five conditions, the first of which was: That the Cityʼs Traffic Master Plan (TMP) confirm that the development does not conflict with the proposed site plan.

At 1:06:55 in the video recording of the 9 November City Council meeting, Counc. Duffy states: “I am led to believe all the last four bullets have been met and just waiting for this master plan to be presented which was presented here two weeks ago at Council.”

A traffic plan commissioned by the City involves public money, and means citizens have a right to see it. But, despite repeated requests from individuals to the Mayor and City Council that another public meeting was warranted to present the traffic study — given that the first public meeting failed to disclose all the relevant additional facts surrounding the Sherwood Crossing and future developments — the study was not made public until February 2021.

At the time of approving the rezoning resolution (first reading 9 November, second reading 14 December), the Council did not even have the final ‘draft TMP’, let alone the approved TMP and so the Council could not have satisfied itself that the requirements of Condition 1 had been met. 

On 4 January 2021, Sherwood resident Don Read filed a Request for Reconsideration with the City and, following procedure, simultaneously filed an appeal with IRAC. One of the grounds for appeal (LA21001 – Read v. City of Charlottetown) was: Failure to consult and inform public on City’s Master Traffic Plan with respect to Sherwood Crossing rezoning application (related to, and relies on, a land transfer from the development).

In fact, the TMP is still not approved. The draft TMP, with its misleading title West Royalty Commercial Area Traffic Master Plan, was only formally presented to Council on 22 February 2021, and the public received its first glimpse on 26 April during a presentation by the Public Works department.


NOTE: The IRAC hearing LA21001 – Read v. City of Charlottetown is being held today.

Published on CBC PEI, Tuesday, November 10: Proposed 300-unit Charlottetown housing development passes 1st reading
“If the development ends up not fitting the traffic master plan council will look at the project again.”

Published on The Guardian, Wednesday, November 18: Major housing development in Charlottetown passes first reading at council meeting
“The councillor [Duffy] said it was determined that the Sherwood Crossing project won’t have a negative impact on traffic flow in the area.”

Update (6): ‘When the hurly-burly’s done’ on Angus Drive

A tale, or two, of two neighbourhoods

The Planning Board meeting to review the Request for Reconsideration filed by Dan MacIsaac, President of Mel’s, on Tuesday, 25 May, lasted only thirty minutes, so watching the video recording won’t take too much of anyone’s time.

Councillor Julie McCabe summed up the situation quite succinctly [19:15]: “I believe this is a provincial problem.”

While the outcome was not unexpected (8–1 in favour to endorse the request), it was Mr Forbes’s undeniable support for the reconsideration that was quite revealing. More on that below.

(1) Two neighbourhoods on opposite sides of the road

In a cunning move, Stephen Yeo, chief engineer with the Department of Transportation informed CBC on 20 May of a possible cost-effective but deceptive alternative to the roundabout in the form of a central island (aka median strip), after Charlottetown’s City Council rejected the Province’s assumed acceptance of the Angus Drive exit from Mel’s Convenience store.

On Thursday, 27 May, an interview by CBC morning show host Mitch Cormier with a Hanmac Street resident added another dimension to the St Peters Road/Angus Drive roundabout boondoggle*.

Intentionally or not, the St Peters Road/Angus Drive provincial/municipal project is not only pitting one neighbourhood against another, it also risks bringing two City councillors into conflict with each other. By some quirk of geography, St Peters Road marks the boundary between Ward 9 (north side) and Ward 10 (south side).

Moreover, the CBC article states: “The province said that decision made the proposed roundabout unsafe and presented a new plan without it.” The Planning Board’s meeting package included no drawing with this new plan. Perhaps it will be included in the meeting package of the Special Meeting of Council scheduled for Monday, 31 May, which has a packed agenda: seven items of discussion with the Reconsideration fifth in line.

(2) Two neighbourhoods: double standards

Let’s go back to the Planning Board meeting for the ‘or twoʼ tale of two neighbourhoods.

Alex Forbes, Manager of the Planning & Heritage Department, presented his report on the Request for Reconsideration submitted by Dan MacIssac, President of Melʼs. The gist of the request is based on new information provided by the province about the interdependence of the proposed (provincial) roundabout and the proposed (municipal) Angus Drive exit for traffic leaving Mel’s [go to 13:25 in video recording]. Mr Forbes expressed his opinion that this new information was somehow not clearly conveyed during the 23 March public meeting by the three presenters. Furthermore, he advised the Planning Board that Council can reconsider the rezoning application in favour of Mel’s. Were this to occur, another public meeting would be held to convey all the additional relevant facts.

Compare this with the APM Sherwood Crossing1 rezoning application and subsequent resolution, which Council approved in a 6–3 vote on 14 December 2020,
[A] even though the related Sherwood-area traffic study (later dubbed the ‘West Royalty Commercial Area Transportation Master Plan’) was presumably still being completed at the time the 26 August public meeting took place;
[B] even though the Sherwood-area traffic study was presented to City Council on 29 October at a closed session of a Special Meeting of Council; and
[C] even though Councillor Tweel asked twice (9 November and 14 December) that Council approve a second public meeting, given the new information received by Council on 29 October about future roads for planned developments in the Sherwood neighbourhood. His request was denied both times.

Here is what Councillor Duffy said during the 14 December Monthly Meeting of Council: “People seem to think the larger one [traffic study] is to validate or confirm Sherwood Crossing in place when it actually has nothing to do with that. It had a bearing, but the approval or not of Sherwood Crossing is not contingent upon the master traffic plan” [video 1:00:20 and 2:06:25].

A tale of two governments

It should be remembered that The Guardian reported on the $20 million St Peters Road plan to ‘fix traffic headachesʼ on 21 February 2020. (To set the date in context, the coronavirus was still ‘only’ an epidemic and centred in Asia and on cruise ships.)

The article stated: Speaking before an audience of about 100 residents at the Hillsborough Community Centre on Thursday, P.E.I.’s chief engineer Stephen Yeo said the corridor sees about 1,500 vehicles per hour during peak times. “We could be up to over 2,600 vehicles per hour turning down St. Peters Road [by 2029].”

A progressive government, provincial or municipal, no longer ‘fixes traffic headachesʼ with new roads or roundabouts. A progressive government invests in a combination of interdependent public transportation and active travel. A progressive government strives to reduce car dependence, and promote low-carbon urbanization. A progressive government uses public money for the common good of its citizens and for the community as a whole.

Instead, two levels of government continue to make unpredictable moves in a politically orchestrated attempt to satisfy the desires of a local business owner and to justify expensive, publicly funded roadworks, and in so doing, bringing emotional turmoil to numerous citizens.

Will Monday’s meeting see City councillors influenced to vote a certain way or will cooler heads and moral conscience prevail?


I’m not the type to resort to Shakespeare, but something Alex Forbes said during the Planning Board meeting [29:15] listing the three parties ‘who have an interestʼ got me thinking about the number three in Macbeth. When the hurly-burlyʼs done is from Act 1, Scene 1.

*Boondoggle (n. informal North American): An unnecessary, wasteful, or fraudulent project.

1 IRAC hearing LA21001 – Read v. City of Charlottetown is scheduled for Monday, 31 May 2021. Grounds for appeal: Failure to consult and inform public on City’s Master Traffic Plan with respect to Sherwood Crossing rezoning application.

UPDATE (5): St Peters Rd/Angus Dr

A special meeting of the Planning Board, was held on Tuesday, 25 May, to review the Request for Reconsideration for Angus Drive (Lot 40) (PID #419143) & 413 St. Peters Road (PID #419135).

The Planning & Heritage Department encouraged the Planning Board to recommend to Council that it reconsider its 12 May decision to reject the rezoning application resolution.

A bit of history

It is worth remembering that Mel’s started out as a fruit stand some twenty-five years ago. Over time, that fruit stand began to offer gas for motorists coming and going from the Charlottetown area. Today, Mel’s has nine locations in two provinces.

2014: First rezoning application

In January 2014, wishing to develop the property, Mel’s owner sought to rezone part of one R-1L (single-detached residential dwelling) lot and all of one R-2 (low density residential) lot into a ‘Mixed Use Commercial’ in what is a Mature Neighbourhood. That application was deferred, but brought back before Council in April 2015, still with the purpose to expand the store and parking lot, but to two thirds (1,200 ft2 instead of 1,800 ft2) of the original area. Following a public meeting, the 2015 rezoning application was rejected.

2021: Reconsideration Request

A Request for Reconsideration must comply with Section 3.15.3 of the Zoning & Development By-law by providing new material facts/evidence not available at the time of the decision. The Reconsideration Request Plan 2021-25-May-6A document signed by Planning Manager Alex Forbes states that “The applicant [owner Dan MacIsaac] contends that during the public hearing on 23 March 2021, it was not made clear to Council and area residents (that in the absence of the Angus Drive access), there is not sufficient distance for a vehicle to safely exit our parking lot and change lanes entering the roundabout and proceed in an easterly direction.” And “The Province did not discuss in detail the potential problems related to directing all of the traffic exiting Mel’s property heading west on to St Peters Road. It is the traffic and safety implications that will result from this scenario that the applicant now contends that neither the public or Council were fully aware of at the public meeting.”

Both the applicant and provincial representatives were present at the public meeting on 23 March. Why did none of them fully apprise Council and area residents at that time?

Letʼs backtrack to the 8 March 2021 Council Meeting Package, in which: “Mayor Brown asked Mr. Yeo if the construction for the roundabout along St. Peters Road and Angus Drive will begin this year. Mr. Yeo responded that tenders were closed last Thursday and construction for the roundabout and road widening along St. Peters Road is anticipated to begin in May and be completed around August or September of 2021.”  Clearly, the Province did not expect Charlottetown City Council to reject Mr MacIsaacʼs rezoning application and has now found itself in a bit of a pickle.

The Request for Reconsideration also has to comply with Section 3.15.3 of the Zoning & Development By-law in which a material change of circumstances has occurred since the initial order or decision [has been taken]. Mr Forbes’s Request document states: “At the public hearing, Councillor Tweel asked staff whether the proposed roundabout would proceed if the Angus Drive access and rezoning application request was not approved. [City planner] Laurel Palmer Thompson indicated that the roundabout would proceed if Mel’s rezoning application was denied. […] In hindsight, Ms Thompson should not have answered this question…”
Oopsies! I contend this ‘material change of circumstancesʼ doesnʼt pass the sniff test.
Listen to Coun. Tweel’s question and Ms Thompson’s reply in the video recording starting at 1:21:40.

Finally, Dan MacIsaac wrote in his Request for Reconsideration letter to Mr Forbes [p. 27 in 25 May Planning Board package]: “… but the traffic on Angus Drive will only increase from St Peters Road to the proposed Angus Drive access which is approximately 150 feet [=46 m].” And yet, in response to a question by Councillor Tweel, “Mr. Yeo responded that the increase in traffic along Angus Drive would be the first 100 metres [=328 ft].” See 6 April Planning Board package (p. 22/137).
Isn’t it about time that Canada become fully metricized so that everyone uses the same set of measurements?

Stay tuned for highlights of the 25 May Special Planning Board meeting.

UPDATE (4): St Peters Rd/Angus Dr

On 12 April, City Councillors voted 8–1  to reject the resolution on this rezoning application, with Coun. Duffy the only one in favour. 

“It would be too much traffic for this residential street. I’m glad council saw it our way.”

Angus Drive resident Paul McGonnell was pleased with Council’s decision.

Yesterday, on 18 May, the agenda for a special meeting of the Planning Board, scheduled for Tuesday, 25 May, was posted. The main topic: Reconsideration request for Angus Drive (Lot 40) (PID #419143) & 413 St. Peters Road (PID #419135).

A reconsideration is permitted under Section 3.15 of the Zoning and Development Bylaw.

3.15 RECONSIDERATION

3.15.1  If a Permit or other approval under this by-law is granted, not granted, or granted subject to conditions and the applicant or an aggrieved person feels the decision is unjustified or unwarranted under this by-law, the applicant or an aggrieved person may seek a reconsideration by Council.

3.15.2  An aggrieved person or an applicant wishing to launch a reconsideration shall make known their intention to do so and the grounds or reasons within twenty-one (21) calendar days of the initial decision.

3.15.3  Council may review, rescind, change or vary any order or decision made by the Development Officer or by Council provided that:

  • New material facts or evidence not available at the time of the initial order or decision have come to light;
  • A material change of circumstances has occurred since the initial order or decision; or
  • There is a clear doubt as to the correctness of the order or decision in the first instance.

3.15.4  A letter shall be sent by ordinary mail explaining the reconsideration request to all Affected Property Owners within 100 m (328.1 ft) of the boundaries of the subject Lot identifying the subject Lot.

3.15.5  Council shall hear any request for reconsideration of a decision under this section and Council shall give all interested persons an opportunity to be heard and make a determination on a request for reconsideration.

3.15.6  The City is not liable for any Development commenced prior to the lapse of the twenty-one (21) calendar day appeal period.

3.15.7  The City shall not consider an application for reconsideration if, at the same time, there is an appeal filed with the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission; but the City may proceed with reconsideration if the applicant has instructed the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission in writing to hold the appeal in abeyance, and the Commission has agreed in writing to hold their appeal until the appellant has exhausted the recourse of reconsideration with the City.


From the CBC article posted on 13 April:

Coun. Duffy said around six people gave their opinions at a public meeting and about eight letters were sent. He said he doesn’t think that should be enough to kill a project.

Duffy said the developer can offer another solution that can be brought back to council. He’s hoping to see a solution offered that is acceptable to all parties at the regular council meeting next month.

Posted: 19 May 2021 at 12:32 p.m. | Updated: 19 May 2021 at 8:35 p.m.

Recent goings-on at City Hall (Part 3)

Monday, 10 May: Regular Meeting of Council

Video recording available on the City’s YouTube channel

Resolution: 151 UPPER PRINCE STREET

The application for this property involved three major variances: (1) Lot frontage reduced from 98 ft to 51 1/2 ft; (2) Flankage yard setback from nearly 20 ft to 10 ft; (3) Flankage yard setback for a balcony from nearly 16 ft to under 8 ft.

Planning staff recommended approval of the first two variances, and rejection of the balcony variance.

Flankage Yard means the Side Yard of a Corner Lot, and which Side Yard abuts a Street or proposed Street shown on an approved survey plan. Required Flankage Yard or minimum Flankage Yard means the minimum Side Yard required by this by-law where such Yard abuts a Street.

38:00 CAO Peter Kelly reads the 151 Upper Prince St. resolution involving three major variances. 
41:40 Coun. Greg Rivard questions the rejection of the setback for the balcony, saying it has value by offering outdoor living space. Mayor Brown asks whether he wants to make a friendly amendment.
42:08 Coun. Terry MacLeod bring up past application by the same developer and says: “Weʼve talked about this before, now we keep letting developers off the hook [like Tim Banks, maybe?] and making changes after weʼve approved them, so…”
43:50 Alex Forbes: “They have to adhere to the Zoning Bylaw…”
Back and forth between Coun. MacLeodʼs complaint and Coun. Rivardʼs issue with the balcony variance rejection.
49:55 Friendly amendment to approve the balcony variance moved by Coun. Rivard.
The vote in favour of the friendly amendment and the amended resolution is 8–1 (Coun. MacLeod opposed).
51:15 End of that application. Total time devoted to a balcony issue for a three-unit apartment building: thirteen minutes.

Compare that to the time spent on the 199 Grafton Street application with seven variances for a 84-unit apartment/parking complex: under six minutes.

Sir John A statue

1:35:45 CAO Peter Kelly read the resolution about the John A statue. Coun. Duffy expressed extreme concern about being seen to vote against John A MacDonald remaining on Queen Street (1:44).

1:46:10 Mayor Brown, speaking from the Chair, explained to Coun. Duffy: “And remember we were asked, or Coun. McCabe was asked, to get the three organizations supporting the recommendations. And all three do support them.” Mayor Brown seemed to have forgotten that the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils made the recommendations.

1:57:00 Objections and resistance by Councillors Ramsay (with motorcycle noise in the background), MacLeod, Ramsay, and Duffy clearly reveal they have failed to educate themselves about the repercussions of colonialism and the need to recognize and redress past wrongs to Indigenous peoples.


Excerpts from the CBC article posted on May 12:

The Epekwitk  Assembly of Councils said it had made five suggestions to the city to amend the art installation and “tell the true story of this individual and begin to address the trauma that its presence is continuing to perpetuate,” the statement said.

  1. Add another figure, such as an Indigenous child or elder.
  2. Fill in or seal off the empty space on the bench so it can’t be used for photo opportunities.
  3. Install signage so viewers understand “the devastating role that Sir John A. Macdonald played in the Indigenous history of Canada.
  4. If the artist engaged is not Indigenous, a Mi’kmaw artist should be hired as a consultant.
  5. Complete the work as soon as reasonably possible.

Councillors raised several questions leading up to the vote, such as who will pay for the modifications, where the new signage and Indigenous statue will be placed and how the empty space on the bench will be filled in to discourage photo opportunities.

Some councillors asked whether the recommendations were negotiable. One suggestion raised during discussion was putting the new statue of the Indigenous figure in a different place.

Recommended reading for the Mayor and members of City Council: The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Reports, in particular The Survivors Speak and The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action.

Posted: 15 May 2021 at 8:24 am | Updated 15 May 2021 at 9:06 pm


Related posts:

Recent goings-on at City Hall (Part 2)
The ongoing saga of Sir John A. statue