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.

Housing. Shelter. Community.

The public meeting about short-term rentals (STR) on Monday, 17 May, raised a number of issues centred around the commodification and financialization of housing. What does this mean? It means the conversion of housing from something that provides shelter, protection, privacy, space for personal and family activities into something that is bought and sold and used to make money. In other words, the value of a house as a real estate investment outweighs its importance as a place to live.

As a result, apartment rents and house prices have been pushed out of the affordability range for a growing number of residents.

“Housing has been financialized: valued as a commodity rather than a human dwelling, it is now a means to secure and accumulate wealth rather than a place to live in dignity, to raise a family and thrive within a community.”

Lailani Farha, UN Human Rights Council (2017)

This led to a housing crisis and the Cityʼs response — without actually defining the precise nature of the crisis — has been to approve record numbers of building permits over the past couple of years. The Planning Department has used the “housing crisis” to justify its support for several controversial developments. Even developers work it into their applications to request (and justify) rezoning and variance applications.

What data did the City of Charlottetown have to legitimize the approval of so many applications and permits? In 2020, the Chair of the Planning Board Committee regularly quoted StatsCan figures to rationalize the development boom, rather than conduct its own housing needs assessment. A 2016 blog post by Bowen National Research describes the purpose and components of a housing needs assessment. It seems fairly straightforward, and should be regarded as a smart investment of public funds.

The Cityʼs zoning and development bylaw is another important component that affects community planning and development decisions. The bylaw contains requirements that could well be considered outdated, even exclusionary, in particular where minimum lot sizes and parking minimums are concerned. Removing these two requirements would do much to prevent urban sprawl (low-density residential development over more and more rural land), and let property owners decide the amount of parking they want.

In a 2017 statement, United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing (and Canadian) Leilani Farha reported that: “Financialization detaches housing from its connection to communities and to the human dignity and security that are at the core of all human rights.”

The individuals who spoke during the 17 May public meeting — many of them from the younger generations — were passionate in their desire to live in a vibrant, thriving, and safe city, yet expressed their anxieties, insecurities, and fears about the precariousness of living in Charlottetown.

Will this City Council and administration be willing and ready to make Charlottetown residents their priority when drafting the Short-term Rental bylaw?