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.

It’s time to reclaim our roads

Hey City!

REGIONAL TRAVEL: Post-WWII euphemism for long & unsustainable car trips

Video : Where we’re going, we don’t need roads

Even though this eighteen-minute video was shot in New York City, Rollie Williams does a fabulous job explaining how the car industry hijacked our roads.

Be prepared for some history, a bit of satire, a bit of comedy, and a lot of information. As he says, “Now is the time to get involved!” We cannot let motor vehicles continue to be the only way to travel on Prince Edward Island.

“Mum, why can’t I walk to school?”

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: The Great Societal Equalizer

Original text published as a Guest Opinion on November 9, 2020, in The Guardian and Journal Pioneer.

Public transportation is the most sustainable and equitable form of transportation that exists. Richard A. White, President and CEO of American Public Transportation Association, observed that public transportation is the original “shared-economy” form of transportation.

The advantages of riding a bus are many. It provides independence to people of all ages and mobility to people living with a disability, it is inexpensive (or free in many cities nowadays), it is healthy because the user walks or cycles to/from the bus stop and it is less stressful than driving.

A lack of public transportation can have a disproportionate impact on working and low-income individuals and immigrants. According to an article in The Atlantic, “Access to just about everything associated with upward mobility and economic progress—jobs, quality food, and goods (at reasonable prices), healthcare, and schooling—relies on the ability to get around in an efficient way, and for an affordable price.” Education and jobs are often cited as the key to overcoming income inequality, while the means to achieving either of these goods remains overlooked.

The automobile’s pervasive presence has been normalised so much that we now find ourselves living and working in places that do more to serve the needs of cars than of people. A well planned public transportation system serves as an effective way to combat automobile dependency. Over-reliance on cars takes a toll on humanity: their emissions increase the likelihood that a healthy person will develop serious diseases, including heart disease or lung cancer, later in life, causing a similar number of premature deaths as traffic collisions. Public transit tends to produce less pollution per passenger-kilometre compared to personal motor vehicles. It is a climate change mitigation opportunity that has been shown to decrease air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Using public transportation is far more affordable that owning and operating a vehicle. A car costs between $8,600 and $13,000 a year, including insurance, gas, maintenance, tires, and depreciation. A T3 Transit monthly pass currently costs $58.50, or $702 a year (Greater Charlottetown Area). Who wouldn’t want to save at least $8,000 a year, or put that money towards better housing, healthier food choices, or education?

A publicly owned, managed, and operated transit system is usually cheaper, more likely to provide good service, and is more accountable to riders than privately run transit*. It is the great societal equalizer, granting everyone universal access to transportation. It’s a known fact that mass transportation makes cities more just, environmentally sustainable, and economically vibrant. On PEI, a public transit system would have to include the unique needs of rural and small-town residents. They, just as much as urban residents, have a right to mobility and a “right to the city” (slogan coined by Henri Lefebvre).

It is time for PEI’s political leaders to make a commitment to create car-free streets and spaces in our cities and towns, to de-prioritize the automobile in their transportation funding allocations, to charge drivers the full cost of their bad habit, and to use the revenue to fund not only a public transit system, but also infrastructure improvements for walking and cycling.

Barbara Dylla of Charlottetown has submitted this article through the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the 10 Days for Transit initiative.

*Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars? ©2020 James Wilt, pp 189–191

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” !

Creating complete streets

Urban highways are tied to low-occupancy vehicles, high-stress travel, reduced walkability, erased communities, segregation, and climate change. Building complete streets instead of urban highways leads to healthier, more economically productive, and more sociable cities.  Learn more.

BRT: Bus Rapid Transit
Source: Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)

UDPATE (1): St Peters Rd/Angus Dr

Planning Board Meeting: April 6, 2021

On March 22, I wrote a post about the rezoning applications in the Angus Drive, St Peters Road, and Hanmac Drive area of East Royalty.

The City’s Planning Board meeting is the next step in the rezoning process. One of the Board’s responsibilities is “to consult with the community and interest groups in matters relating to land use, planning and heritage.” The Mayor, four Councillors, and five Resident members sit on the Board.

The monthly meeting is held the first Monday of the month (or Tuesday following a holiday), usually starts at 4:30 PM, and is streamed live on the City of Charlottetown Web site. Video-recordings are archived on the City’s YouTube channel (select VIDEO for most recent meetings).

Details of the Public Meeting: March 23, 2021

I’m worried we will be bombarded with air pollutants, noise pollutants and light pollutants.

Laura Morgan (pp 73–74)

Details of the St Peters Rd/Angus Drive portion of the Public Meeting are found on pages 14 to 22 of the April 6, 2021, Planning Board Meeting Package (16.7MB). The package also contains the rezoning application with historical information, the City planner’s analysis, copies of citizen letters, and more (pages 51 to 88). If you want to watch the video-recording of the presentation, go to minute 17:00 (ends at 1:28:40).

This isn’t about traffic flow, this is about Steven Yeo helping Dan MacIsaac get what he wanted for Mel’s 7 years ago …

Patty and Randy Good (page 71)
Where is the human scale?

“As the world looks to recover and rebuild in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, cities have the opportunity to curb the growing demand for driving by prioritizing street space and even generating revenue that can support public transport, walking, cycling, and other sustainable modes.”
— Institute for Transportation and Development Policy

Taming Traffic

Yesterdayʼs public meeting to present a rezoning application that will involve a new roundabout to be built by the Province is a perfect example of both the Provinceʼs and the City of Charlottetownʼs car bias, which promotes more roads and roundabouts at the expense of other transportation solutions. “Efficiency of moving traffic”, “province is making major upgrades”, “create a much safer situation for vehicles” are all car-biased expressions that leave out the people factor.

Do we value moving cars fast? Do we value saving lives? Do we value new transportation options? Do we value the people in these neighbourhoods, or do we value the people passing though? What kind of city do we want to build? 

It is time for the Province and the City of Charlottetown to de-prioritize the automobile in their transportation funding allocations, to charge drivers the full cost of their bad habit, and to use the revenue to properly fund integrated public and active transportation systems.

Demand for and use of private cars is growing worldwide, contributing to major challenges like poor air quality, traffic injuries, and climate change, especially in places experiencing rapid urbanization. Population growth and uptake of vehicles, coupled with inefficient public transportation and land use planning, make traffic a complex problem to manage. While many city leaders recognize that traffic is a problem, they too often focus on road expansions and new highways as the solutions. Not only can this make congestion worse through induced demand, but it does little to address the many other negative impacts of driving.

Instead, cities must consider traffic reduction strategies that prioritize people and well-being and that require drivers to consider environmental and societal costs in addition to internal costs when choosing to drive.
Excerpt from Taming Traffic Executive Summary ©2021

March 23, 2021: Public Meeting

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.
Courtyard, The Rodd Royalty, 14 Capital Drive
(Also accessible via Videoconference (Webex) and live stream at www.charlottetown.ca/video)

Two items are on the agenda for this Public Meeting, at which citizens have the opportunity to listen to the Planning Department’s report, and comment on or ask questions about the proposed rezoning applications. This post focusses on the first item.

Angus Drive (Lot 40) & 413 St. Peters Road


“The current application has come forward because the Province is undertaking major upgrades to St.Peters Road in the Summer of 2021. Those upgrades include construction of a roundabout at the location of Angus Drive, Hanmac Avenue and St Peters Road.

“The proposed roundabout will alleviate issues with access from Angus Drive and will keep traffic flowing as opposed to waiting to make left or right turns at this intersection. The proposed access driveway from Mel’s to Angus Drive will also create a much safer situation for customers leaving or entering the site. Currently, residents that live north of Mel’s and St.Peters Road have to go down to St.Peters Road to get to Mel’s site. Once this access goes in and the roundabout is constructed, residents to the north of Mel’s will be able to turn into Mel’s site and not have to enter on to St. Peters Road. That will create a much safer situation.”
Source: Monthly Meeting Package (March 8, 2021)

What’s wrong with this proposal?

  1. “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.” 
  2. “There are still negotiations with property owners, but the project will move ahead as planned.”
  3. “Councillor McCabe asked if changing the designation from mature neighbourhood to the village centre allow further commercial development on the property. Councillor Duffy responded that this application is only a request to proceed to public meeting.”

Why is a public meeting called when the project is going ahead anyway?

This City Council still believes—as does the Province—that cars are the best way to get around, when they are in fact virtually the only way to get around, because so little money is invested in connected public and active transportation; that more roads are needed to reduce congestion; and that pedestrians and cyclists can be accommodated through added-on, second-rate infrastructure.

City Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019. Building more roads for more cars that produce direct emissions, including smog-forming pollutants (such as nitrogen oxides), other pollutants harmful to human health, and greenhouse gases (GHGs), primarily carbon dioxide, is the very opposite of the sustainable community design and urban planning that a municipality should be striving to achieve in 2021!