Will the 15 Haviland flawed approval process be repeated at 199 Grafton?

Author: Doug MacArthur
Posted with author’s permission. Original on Future of Charlottetown FaceBook page on Friday, March 19, 2021.

Watch video recording (50 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/c/CityofCharlottetown/videos

On Monday, March 22, a very important Design Review Board meeting is being held regarding APM’s proposed 84-unit apartment building to be built in the Polyclinic parking lot. Citizens need to have much more information and input than happened in the 15 Haviland case. Already, there is reason for concern.

Design Review is the City committee which approved 15 Haviland Street, 99-unit, project in 17 minutes, including the developer’s [APM] presentation. There was then no recourse allowed by the Mayor for any public input by the community or even City Council. Our only 15 Haviland recourse is for an IRAC appeal which will be launched if/when the City issues a Development Permit. The Polyclinic 84 unit seems to be embarking on a similar rushed approval process. 

Several days ago, the City announced that the Design Review Board would meet about 199 Grafton on March 22. Not until Friday, March 19, did the Design Reviewer provide his technical report, and that Reviewer is the same New Brunswick architect who was paid $1500 to review APM’s $30-million 15 Haviland proposal. He was supportive of 15 Haviland, while highly regarded architects called it an urban design disaster and a box on top of a bunker on Charlottetown’s beautiful waterfront.

Late Friday afternoon, March 19, the City provided the meeting package for the noon, Monday, March 22 meeting. In the meeting package, APM asks that the Design Review Board process the necessary variances and the Development Agreement concurrently. It is clear that the developer wants this approval fast-tracked, although it is not expected to be approved at Monday’s meeting because there are so many issues with the project. These issues need to be fully resolved before any Development Agreement is entertained. Following are some of the many issues.

In the meeting package, APM refers to the project as “affordable” housing in nine instances, but nowhere in the package does it state how many of the units will actually be affordable housing. Will it be all 84 units or only a few token units to help get the project approved as per 15 Haviland? On February 16, in a CBC article about the proposed Polyclinic project, when asked about the number of affordable housing units, Tim Banks stated “it’s difficult to determine exactly how many of the units will fall into the affordable housing category.” That’s not good enough. This Polyclinic parking lot is an ideal location for bona fide affordable housing, but the exact number needs to be known before any consideration should be given to significant variances in this 500 Lot Area.

As to the variances required, there are many as the Design Reviewer acknowledges when he says “..it is clear that there are several variances required prior to obtaining a Development Agreement including frontages, setbacks, step backs, heights, Clark Street.” In fact, APM’s plans call for building right up to the edge of Clark Street, which borders the proposed project for 428 feet.

All told, this appears to be another case, as per 15 Haviland, of overbuilding a site and not respecting the scale or other physical aspects of the neighbourhood. In the meeting package, APM says that because it has “identified no significant commonality or distinction surrounding the area, the design for the proposed building adapted to what we feel is appropriate for this site.”

There are various other issues related to this proposed project which need to be addressed, and this scrutiny should begin at Monday’s Design Review meeting. Two of the key Design Review members are the Mayor and the ward Councillor for that area. For 15 Haviland, they both were wearing APM hardhats. We hope they will better represent our community’s interests on Monday and as this project proceeds through a thorough due diligence and public input process.

Source: Design Review Package – March 22, 2021

City of Charlottetown Meeting Calendar

Knowing what is happening at City Hall is as easy as looking at the Meeting Calendar.

Here are the three simple steps:

  1. Go to https://www.charlottetown.ca
  2. Select MAYOR & COUNCIL
  3. Select Meeting Calendar under COUNCIL MEETINGS

Here’s what the March 2021 meeting calendar looks like:

Click on any of the meetings shown in blue for more information, such as time of meeting, location, agenda, and meeting package (if available).

Most meetings are held on a regular basis every month, are streamed live and then archived on the City’s YouTube channel.

A Special Meeting of Council, however, can be called at the Mayor’s or the Chief Administration Officer’s (CAO) request as little as 24 hours in advance, according to the Municipal Government Act (2017).


Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear from you.

How well is our city really doing?

City to conduct Citizen Satisfaction Survey

Recently posted under News and Notices on the City of Charlottetown’s Web site: “Charlottetown City Council will commission MDB Insight to conduct the first ever Charlottetown Citizen Satisfaction Survey, in an effort to gauge City residents’ satisfaction with the handling of priority issues within the City.”

The Strong Towns Strength Test

Strong Towns is a North American non-profit organization that helps individuals and municipalities learn about and adopt a radically new way of thinking about the way we build our world.

In 2016, they developed a ten-question Strong Towns Strength Test, which is still valid today.

Based on those ten questions, how successful do you think the City of Charlottetown is today?

Why New Charlottetown Project?

Over

My inspiration for the name came from the New Georgia Project, a non-partisan civic engagement organization dedicated to increasing voter registration.

My aim is to encourage Charlottetowners to become more active citizens, create a sense of the larger community we live in, and let the Mayor and City Council know that our voices count in plans and projects that affect our city.

Political scientists describe our system of voting every few years but otherwise leaving everything up to government as weak democracy. In a weak democracy, citizens have no role, no real part in decision-making between elections.

Charles Dobson, 25 Nov 2003 | TheTyee.ca

The next municipal election is in 2022. Let us raise our voices, let us connect with each other, and let us be instrumental in creating a positive social environment by transforming the way in which our city is run.