On Wednesday of this week, we [signed off by Doug MacArthur] filed a request with the City that it Reconsider its August 26, 2021, decision to approve site and foundation construction permits for the proposed townhouses on Towers Road re Killam’s/APM’s Sherwood Crossing project. Also on Wednesday we filed an IRAC Appeal in the same matter.
Our filings make the case that proper process is not being followed. In our view, it is not appropriate for permits to be issued and construction to proceed on a project which has not yet even had its rezoning approved. That rezoning is presently the subject of another party’s IRAC appeal begun early in 2021.
Additionally, the August 26 City Council permit approval meeting, both in public and in closed session, was chaired by Mayor Philip Brown, who we believe should have declared a conflict of interest, excused himself, and should have avoided any involvement in the discussions or decisions relating to the August 26 City Council approval. We believe the August 26 permit approval process was tainted.
We also have other issues with the exaggerated relevance being attached to the Sherwood Crossing development agreement between the City and the developer. We believe there have been other process violations, not to mention APM/Killam proceeding for a considerable time with construction this summer at Sherwood Crossing without a permit, and receiving no sanctions for doing so.
There is a well-established and defined approval process to be followed for new Charlottetown development projects. In some cases, particularly Sherwood Crossing, that process has not been respected or followed. It needs to be followed if citizens are to have confidence in City Hall decision-making and in our municipal checks and balances. So, the purpose in our Wednesday filings is to help restore proper and proven processes to City Hall decision-making. We are not necessarily against a development at Sherwood Crossing, but we want any development to respect proper process, not engage in unacceptable tactics that do a disservice to our community.
The next steps in our filings will be for City Hall to consider our Reconsideration request while our IRAC Appeal is held in abeyance. If our Reconsideration request is rejected, then the IRAC appeal will proceed. There may also be some other related filings along the way.
This post will likely draw the ire of the usual small handful of vested interests, contrarians, and wild-west advocates, and that comes with the territory. However, we wish to express our appreciation to the thousands of Charlottetown and PEI citizens who support our posts, week in and week out. Our most recent post re potential Mayor Brown conflict of interest has been viewed by over 10,000 people, liked by almost 200 people, commented on by more than 125 people and shared by more than 80 people, for a total of almost 400 people who took the time to express their views and concerns. That is phenomenal support, it is what public participation is all about, and it is very much appreciated. It is testament to the thousands of citizens who want a future of Charlottetown in which we can have great pride and confidence.
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.
Checks and balances are defined as “various procedures set in place to reduce mistakes, prevent improper behaviour, or decrease the risk of centralization of power”. They are not working in the case of Killam/APM’s Sherwood Crossing project approval process.
On January 4, 2021, an IRAC appeal was launched against the City’s decision to rezone the Sherwood Crossing lands to enable Killam/APM to build a large project on the site. That appeal is still before IRAC, with City Hall on August 6, 2021, filing its most recent information with IRAC in response to questionable testimony given by the City’s Planning Department official who has handled the file, and by Tim Banks, as well as questions about when the Development Agreement between City Hall was actually signed off by the City [Mayor Philip Brown and CAO Peter Kelly] and by the Developer [Tim Banks]. The Development Agreement is dated April 15, 2021, but appears not to be signed off until June, 2021. All of this information and more can be found on the IRAC website, and it is well worth reading.
The point is that it may be some time before IRAC decides on the Sherwood Crossing rezoning appeal, so the site does not now have final approval for development. Yet Mayor Brown and Peter Kelly on behalf of the City entered into a Development Agreement in June 2021, re Sherwood Crossing while knowing full well that the property rezoning has been under IRAC appeal since January. There is also no clause in the City/Sherwood Crossing Development Agreement [see IRAC website] which specifically makes the Development Agreement conditional on a favourable decision by IRAC re the rezoning. Yet, it is common and proper practice to do so. For example, Nova Scotia municipal regulations require “that a development agreement shall not be entered into until all appeals have been abandoned or disposed of”.
And how has Tim Banks/APM responded since he has had the Development Agreement in place? He has publicly regarded it as a commitment by City Hall to enable him to begin construction, and APM in fact recently undertook substantial construction work at the Sherwood Crossing site, before having a Cease Construction order issued by City Hall last week after this writer [Doug MacArthur ] filed a complaint. Under Govt of PEI regulations, “In almost all instances both a Development Permit AND a Building Permit will be required before construction can begin on a project”. Tim Banks/APM had neither for the Sherwood Crossing project.
After City Hall issued the Sherwood Crossing Cease Construction order, Tim Banks threatened to take legal action against City Hall. And, instead of the City standing its ground., it held a closed session of City Council this week, after which, Mayor Philip Brown presiding, there was a City Council vote taken to issue APM a foundation permit, enabling Sherwood Crossing construction work to resume.
A Development Agreement is NOT a Development Permit, but City Hall seems to be treating it as one. If a Sherwood Crossing Development Agreement gives APM the right to begin construction there, then what’s to stop Mr Banks/APM/Killam and City Hall doing the same thing at 15 Haviland where they have had a Development Agreement for their proposed 99-unit, 10-storey structure since January of 2020? More on all this in upcoming posts.
Bottom line is that the development checks and balances aren’t working in Charlottetown. Many citizens have lost trust in our mayor and most councillors to represent our interests. Often we either don’t know what’s going on at City Hall, or we’re fed the pablum version of transparency, such as the current Chair of Planning’s [Terry MacLeod] version of next steps in the Sherwood Crossing saga.
The Province obviously wants nothing to do with any of this, even though it has a clear oversight responsibility which it is not fulfilling. If it won’t stand up for the citizens of our city, it should at least support IRAC. How can the Province expect IRAC to make a fair decision, without pressure, on the current Sherwood Crossing rezoning IRAC appeal when construction of a $95 million project is already underway and when City Hall has not protected itself in the terms of the Development Agreement that Mayor Brown and Peter Kelly signed? Because City Hall and Govt of PEI checks and balances on development don’t work, the citizens of Charlottetown are left holding the bag, and paying the possible lawsuits to follow.
Time for the Province to step up re Charlottetown City Council mayhem
This Future of Charlottetown Facebook page was created one year ago, primarily to bring attention to major municipal issues in which the Mayor Philip Brown administration, for whatever reasons, has not been properly representing the interests of the citizens of Charlottetown. The situation continues to deteriorate to the point where it seems that this City administration either doesn’t understand its responsibilities to the public, or it doesn’t give a damn about those responsibilities. It is past time for the Government of PEI to exercise its oversight responsibilities.
We have posted on questionable City Hall development approval processes, [eg Killam/APM 15 Haviland and Sherwood Crossing projects]; potential conflicts of interest, including Councillor Greg Rivard, or maybe the mayor himself through his construction business [see recent Charlottetown work site photos here]; questionable tendering processes [eg fire station architectural bids]; lack of by-law enforcement related to favoured businesses; misleading reports to the public; far too many closed-door Council meetings; and on and on.
We have also asked many questions of the Mayor, usually without receiving authentic, informative answers. Meanwhile, almost every neighbourhood of our city has had to mobilize to reverse inappropriate City Hall decisions [eg Simmons rink and pool, Trainor Street], or to file IRAC appeals. It has to stop.
Our November 3, 2020, Facebook post reported on a public inquiry final report released the previous day on conflicts, etc., involving the municipal government in Collingwood, Ontario. Following is a CBC excerpt related to the conclusions: “Unfair bidding practices, unfair procurement practices, conflicts of interest, inaccurate and misleading town council reports, the misuse and inappropriate disclosure of the town’s confidential information”, was how (Judge Frank) Marrocco described his findings Monday at a news conference releasing his 914-page report. “In other words, behaviours that, left unaddressed, undermines the foundational core and reputation of a municipal government.”
These same issues are rampant in the Mayor Brown administration. The Government of Ontario acted to launch the Collingwood public inquiry. Surely, the PEI Government has a similar responsibility in the current situation in which the Brown administration is clearly not acting in the public interest on many fronts. Although the Government of PEI should not require even more public outcry in order to act, a citizens’ petition delivered on Rochford Square may need to be the next steps to correct this unacceptable and deteriorating City of Charlottetown situation.
Sherwood Crossing update: Last week, we filed a complaint with City Hall re Killam/APM construction proceeding without permit approval. Finally, this week City Hall advised me [Doug MacArthur] that a Cease Construction order was issued by the City to APM. Thank you to all who brought this major, unauthorized construction to our attention.
At the June 22 Public Meeting to hear the Request for Reconsideration filed by Mel’s Convenience owner Dan MacIsaac, a resident asked whether Councillor Terry Bernard and Councillor Mike Duffy had violated the Council Code of Conduct bylaw.
The resident informed Council that Counc. Bernard had written a letter on City letterhead informing his wardʼs constituents about the St Peters Rd roundabout (a provincial matter), but failed to mention Melʼs rezoning application, a municipal matter and the subject of the Request for Reconsideration. In Counc. Duffyʼs case, he had expressed his voting intention on the Request for Reconsideration at an open Council meeting, which should have disqualified him from voting on the Reconsideration resolution.
Section 9. General Conduct (b) Members of Council must be committed to performing their fucntions with integrity and to avoiding conflicts of interest and the improper use of the influence of their office.
Cox & Palmer lawyer David Hooley, as legal counsel for the City of Charlottetown, was asked to provide a legal opinion. He deemed that both councillors were not in a conflict of interest. In other words, they had not contravened the Code of Conduct.
The information relating to both councillors can be found here (July 1 post, see hyperlinks in #5).
On Monday, July 12, Council met in a closed session at a Special Meeting of Council, where Councillor Mitchell Tweel was informed that he breached the Code of Conduct. The resolution, found on the last page of the July 12 Resolutions and Minutes file, does not specify the relevant section(s) of the Bylaw associated with the transgression, nor of any other City Bylaw.
According to The Guardian’s July 13 article, Tweel failed to attend 30 of the 32 Planning Board meetings held since last October, when the committees were restructured. Mayor Brown said when Tweel brought up concerns [in 2020] about his family business connections, senior administration asked its legal counsel, Karen Campbell, to look into the matter. She found no conflict of interest.
The way the article was written, the Mayor didn’t quite follow the order of the complaint and resolution process: “That’s when an independent third-party human resources investigator was brought in. The investigator’s report found Tweel to be in breach of the city’s code of conduct. […] Brown said the city then offered to bring in a mediator. Duffy declined, so the matter went back to council […]”
The Code of Conduct Bylaw states: 25.8. If the matter is not satisfactorily resolved after the Mayorʼs facilitation […], the Mayor, with the assistance of the CAO, may appoint a mediator to attempt to resolve the matter. 26.1. Failing resolution by the Mayorʼs facilitation or mediation, the Mayor […] will appoint an independent investigator…
The Code of Conduct Bylaw does not list a councillorʼs obligations to attend a set number of committee meetings. Nor was such a requirement found in the Cityʼs Procedural Bylaw.
On July 19, this billboard was seen on the corner of Towers and Mount Edward roads.
Councillor Greg Rivard was the Chair of the Planning & Heritage Committee from January 2019 to mid-October 2020.
In February 2020, CBC posted an article about a new development, quoting APM owner Tim Banks that it “goes before the city’s planning board on March 2.” Ultimately, what has become known as Sherwood Crossing was presented to the Planning Board on August 4. A public meeting was held on August 26.
The Planning Department presented its report, including feedback received from citizens, at the September 8 Planning Board meeting. Councillor Julie McCabe made motion for a deferral, because the traffic study commissioned by the City and involving the development had not been received. The vote was tied 4–4. The only time a Chair can vote is to break a tie. Councillor Rivard voted against the deferral.
A discussion then took place about the traffic study. Planning Manager Alex Forbes suggested that Council could request a deferral, thereby signalling his desire that the application be recommended to Council for approval. Councillor Rivard brushed Resident member Rosemary Herbertʼs concerns away too, stating that “if the information is not there [in the meeting package] to support the motion, then Council has every right to defer…” at the Monday meeting.
In January 2021, Greg Rivard joined RE/MAX Charlottetown as a licensed realtor. He recently became the listing agent for Tim Banksʼs Sherwood Crossing development [Note: IRAC appeal still ongoing].
Future of Charlottetown contacted Greg Rivard about the perceived conflict of interest and received this reply by e-mail: “I was contacted apprx 3 weeks ago by representatives of Killam/APM asking if I would be interested in listing the properties through myself and Remax. I contacted my own solicitor as well as the City solicitor and asked them to review prior to accepting the offer. I was cleared with no conflict concerns.”
Four councillors, four different situations, three cleared by the Cityʼs legal counsel, and one penalized after an investigation that cost $6K determined he didn’t attend 30 committee meetings.
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.
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.
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:
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 applicationand subsequent resolution, which Council approved in a 6–3 vote on 14 December 2020, [A] even thoughthe related Sherwood-area traffic study (later dubbed the ‘West Royalty Commercial Area Transportation Master Plan’) was presumably still being completed at the timethe 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 Councilon 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” [video1:00:20 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.
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 balconyvariance 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.
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.
Add another figure, such as an Indigenous child or elder.
Fill in or seal off the empty space on the bench so it can’t be used for photo opportunities.
Install signage so viewers understand “the devastating role that Sir John A. Macdonald played in the Indigenous history of Canada.”
If the artist engaged is not Indigenous, a Mi’kmaw artist should be hired as a consultant.
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.
51:27 Introduction of the 199 Grafton St. resolution involving seven — many major — variances and exemptions. 55:46 Reading of variances and exemptions completed. Comment “Do you need some water after that?” (speaker unknown), followed by general LAUGHTER 55:51 “Could you repeat that [list]?” (speaker unknown). Followed by MORE LAUGHTER 55:58 “Councillor Duffy do you want to speak to this?” (speaker unknown) “What more can be said??” (speaker unknown). Followed by EVEN MORE LAUGHTER.
Resolution passed, with no discussion. It took more time to read the lengthy list of variances and exemptions …
Neither the scale of this proposal nor the consequences of the requested variances are in any way laughing matters. The behaviour demonstrated by this council shows a complete disrespect for their elected office and the residents who put them there.
In May 2019, Killam REIT announced the purchase of 50% of RioCan REIT’s Charlottetown Mall property, “with future multi-family development opportunities of up to 300 units.”
In February 2020, those 300 units moved to undeveloped land on the other side of the Confederation Trail (aka Rails to Trails). As reported by CBC: “Developer Tim Banks told CBC News his company, Pan American Properties, plans to build 300 units over the next decade on about six hectares off of Towers Road.”
The Killam/RioCan/APM residential development was presented in a public meeting on August 26, 2020, as part of a rezoning application. All the other pieces around it have been handled piecemeal by the City, before and after that date. In so doing, City Council failed to duly inform the public in accordance with the Council Code of Conduct Bylaw #2020-CC-01, Part II – Principles, Section 8.4. “Members of Council are responsible for the decisons that they make. This responsibility includes acts of commission and acts of omission. In turn, decision-making processes must be transparent and subject to public scrutiny”; and Section 8.8.“Members of Council have a duty to demonstrate openness and transparency about their decisions and actions.”
Feb. 7, 2020: The City’s Capital Budget was approved. The Guardianreported: “The capital budget also includes $650,000 that will enable the city to create a road that links Towers Road up with Spencer Drive, giving traffic the option of bypassing the parking lot at the rear of the Charlottetown Mall. And while no one will say anything on the record, the city is also looking into extending Spencer Drive to Mount Edward Road.”
Mar. 17, 2020: Premier King announced that the provincial cabinet had declared a state of public health emergency under the Public Health Act. (COVID-19)
Mar. 19, 2020: Special Meeting of Council (vote 9–0 in favour): Resolution 4 (c) “[…] That the submission from CBCL Ltd. to perform a comprehensive traffic study of undeveloped lands adjacent to the main retail area of Charlottetown, as additional work to the City’s Growth Management Study, be accepted.” Cost $69,000. City of Charlottetown website
April 12, 2020: “The Public Works Department would like to advise the public that negotiations are underway regarding the section of private road located between Towers Road and Spencer Drive.” City of Charlottetown website
Aug. 5, 2020: New Road Construction – Towers Road to Spencer Drive (Invitation To Tender) – Closing date Aug. 19
Aug. 26, 2020: Public Meeting held at the Rodd Royalty Hotel, Charlottetown. Presentation starts at 1:37:00 in the video. Documents available at charlottetown.ca.
Oct. 29, 2020: In a closed session at a Special Meeting, Council received a presentation regarding the traffic study from CBCL engineers and authorized CAO Peter Kelly to expedite thepurchase of two properties [241/245 Mt Edward Rd], to be leased back to the occupants for two years.
Feb. 8, 2021: Monthly Meeting of Council (vote 6–3 in favour): Council authorized the increase in the 20/21 Capital Budget of $550,000to fund the purchase of two properties (241 and 245 Mount Edward Rd). These properties face Ash Drive and stand in the way of the Spencer Drive extension, which is on Killam/RioCan/APM’s proposed Sherwood Crossing development property. It is worth noting that the City’s Public Works Department will act as property manager for a two-year period.
Feb. 26, 2021: The City posts an announcement on its Web site: “CITY REQUESTS INPUT ON TRAFFIC MASTER PLAN” with details on how to access the traffic plan and ends with “While there is no current deadline to submit feedback, please note that residents will have the opportunity to provide input in a public consultation, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.” The Guardian publishes the announcement on March 12, the CBC posts an article on March 16, presumably in response to a letter I sent on March 11 to ask why the media has failed to inform the public.
April 13, 2021: The City posts another announcement with the date of the public meeting (7 p.m., Monday, April 26, Confederation Centre of the Arts). Neither local newspaper The Guardian nor CBC PEI have reported the new details so far.
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:
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