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 (3): St Peters Rd/Angus Dr

This is the final instalment. Phew!

With Councillor Coady ineligible to vote (having declared a conflict of interest), the remaining City Councillors voted to reject the resolution on this rezoning application.

The discussion, which lasts nearly one hour, starts at minute 25:00 in the video-recording of the meeting.

Hear what your councillor said

Coun. Tweel (27:42) “Angus Drive has been a neighbourhood street for the past 50 years.”
Coun. Bernard (33:43) States reasons he’s against the application.
Coun. McCabe (35:40) States reasons she’s against the application.
Coun. Rivard (38:03) Not in favour of application, but presents a motion to defer the decision. Seconded by Coun. Jankov. Offers possible solutions (interrupted by annoying coughing – Coun. Duffy?).
Coun. Jankov (39:30) Supports deferral, stating it’s an opportunity to have a win for everybody.
Coun. Rivard (41:00) Refers to a past [similar?] rezoning application [Needs Convenience Store at Robin Avenue]
Coun. McCabe (41:38) Reminds everyone that the decision cannot be deferred, because the roundabout is on the verge of being built by the province. Manager of Planning Alex Forbes stated the tender is out for the roundabout.
Coun. Tweel (43:20) Reminds everyone the topic is the rezoning application, and residents want an answer.
Coun. Ramsay (45:15) “We have to start looking after residents.”
Coun. Rivard (46:30) Still in favour of deferring a decision.
Coun. Duffy (47:18) [I hear a lecture coming] “It’s a safety concern all around. I fail to see how this would increase traffic on Angus Drive.” He has the gall to disparage the six individuals from five households who spoke up at the March 23 public meeting, and the writers of 3 or 4 letters not in support, presuming that the remaining 1495 households in Ward 9 “are all for it, or just didn’t have the time to tell us their thoughts.”
Coun. Bernard (52:30) “How much commercial do we want on St Peters?”
Coun. Jankov (55:35) Deferral will allow for further discussion so the application is not quashed.
Coun. MacLeod (56:38) States reasons he’s against the application. Asks “What about MacRae Drive?” [intersects St Peters west of Angus Dr]
57:45–1:04:40 Discussion among several councillors and Mr Forbes ensues about the deferral motion.
Mayor Brown (1:04:40) After some confusion, the vote on the resolution is held. The result: 8–1 against, with Coun. Duffy the only one in favour of the rezoning application.

In the media

The Guardian: Charlottetown council throws up road block on proposed new road in East Royalty

CBC: Controversial road proposal shut down by Charlottetown council

Read my first post on the topic: March 23, 2021: Public Meeting

GUEST OPINION: Mayor of Charlottetown has too much influence, not enough leadership

Posted with author’s permission.
Originally published in The Guardian on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

At the municipal level, the buck stops at the mayor’s desk. He or she is expected to lead and provide wise direction, especially in a place like Charlottetown, our capital city, Birthplace of Confederation, and one of the finest and most beautiful cities anywhere. However, our current mayor seems missing in action on the leadership side.

Examples of his unacceptable leadership as mayor include the following:

It is unacceptable when a highly respected Charlottetown architect’s firm places first in the competition to design a third city fire station, but instead, the city awards the tender to a lower-placed firm. It is even more concerning when other leading architectural firms courageously speak out against the inappropriate City Hall decision and say they are losing faith in the city’s tendering process, and go on to say “it’s an embarrassment throughout the Atlantic region for our city hall.” And the Mayor’s pathetic response: “Anytime you do something and issue an RFP, you’ll get feedback.” If Mayor Brown is still around for the 2023 Canada Games, will he want to award the gold to the third-place finishers?

It is unacceptable recently when the city’s proposed 2021 budget seemed to be off by about $2.5 million in the calculations, that Mayor Brown proposed that council approve the budget anyway and hopefully find the missing money later. How can citizens/taxpayers have confidence in such judgment and leadership when he is so cavalier about millions of taxpayer’s dollars?

It is unacceptable that the mayor is a member of every city committee and has input and voting rights on every committee. He has far too much influence on every matter proceeding through committee stages, and he has shown no hesitation to use that influence to advance or thwart various matters involving the city. In a December 2019 City Remuneration Report, the authors (Gerard Mitchell, retired Supreme Court judge; George MacDonald, former Charlottetown mayor; and Stan MacPherson, accounting firm principal) expressed a number of concerns regarding city operations, and they suggested consideration of “revising the Municipal Government Act so that the mayor of Charlottetown is not a voting member of council committees. The mayor’s vote should be reserved for breaking ties at council meetings.” Needless to say, Mayor Brown has not advanced that proposal which would greatly roll back his powers.

It is unacceptable that the mayor does not excuse himself, at the committee and council level, from city development decisions, given that his bio states that he “works with the family business (EB Brown’s Transport and Crane Service) as a business accountant and public relations officer.” His firm is also a member of the Construction Association of P.E.I. and Philip Brown is listed there as the contact. We have seen in the examples above that Mayor Brown seems to play fast and loose with city tendering processes and city budgeting, but he is also in the construction business at a time when the city is allowing and enabling approval of some weakly scrutinized construction projects city-wide, sometimes with little or no regard for neighbourhood impacts or bylaw provisions.

It is unacceptable that the Mayor Brown administration frequently calls special meetings of council (which are for the purpose of dealing with urgent matters that cannot wait until the next regularly scheduled council meeting) and also frequently goes into closed sessions with no public access. For example, during the previous administration from 2015-2018, there was an average of six special meetings of council (urgent meetings) per year. With the Brown administration, there have been 38 in 2019, and a further 38 such meetings of council in 2020. Why?

Special Council Meetings 2019-2020 (source: City of Charlottetown)

Finally, it is unacceptable that since Mayor Brown came to power, almost every neighbourhood in the city has had to defend itself from questionable city hall decisions. The result has been IRAC appeals, neighbourhood campaigns like Save Simmons, Save Sherwood, Save Our Waterfront, and it gets worse by the day. There is little or no respect shown by the mayor for our bylaws, our neighbourhoods, our tendering processes, our tax money, and on and on. We are too good a city and a province to continue putting up with this nonsense. I hope Mayor Brown will either quickly get his act together or recognize that the position of mayor may be too much for him.

Doug MacArthur is co-ordinator of Future of Charlottetown.

Why does a person run for municipal office?

The Samara Centre for Democracy is a non-partisan charity dedicated to strengthening Canada’s democracy. In 2020, it conducted its first Canadian Municipal Barometer survey, which was sent to mayors and councillors in the more than 400 municipalities across Canada.

Divided into five specific sections, the 26-page report uses plain language and well designed infographics.

In the section entitled “Where do local leaders come from?”, we learn that most local politicians surveyed suggest that their path to politics began, or was aided by, experience in community associations.

What motivates a person to enter local politics?

An overriding theme of responses was that politics was simply a way to give back to a community in which representatives were already heavily engaged. The majority of answers (58%) mention the importance of public service, community involvement, or making changes generally, on specific issues, or in leadership.

The next municipal election is in 2022. Let us raise our voices, let’s 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.

Many respondents were recruited, or received encouragement to run. Overwhelmingly, local politicians themselves cite their interest in public service and the well-being of their communities as the key motivators for seeking office at the municipal level.

2020 Locally Grown: A survey of municipal politicians in Canada