Kent Street lighting scheme

Citizens generally want their municipal government to realize better outcomes for public expenditures, given that resources in
the public sector are mostly generated through taxes (municipal, provincial, and federal).

At the same time, a municipal government must have the ability to fulfill its functions in an effective way that meets the expectations of its citizens.

An active and productive cooperation between government and citizens is one of the results of good governance.

What is governance?

Practised on a daily basis, governance is typically about
the way public servants make decisions and implement
policies.

What is good governance?

Good governance is essential for ensuring that government is allocating resources wisely and fairly, and that it is serving the public interest in an open and transparent manner — which in turn is essential for building and maintaining citizens’ confidence in the public sector.

“Good governance makes it really difficult to do the wrong thing and really easy to do the right thing.”

Andrew Corbett-Nolan, Chief Executive of Good Governance Institute, UK

Principles of Good Governance in the Public Sector

Source: Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia

Kent Street and the stewardship principle

Stewardship is the act of looking after resources on behalf
of the public and is demonstrated by maintaining or improving capacity to serve the public interest over time.

Charlottetown’s City Council fell short of the stewardship principle when it voted in favour of a proposal by Discover Charlottetown, which had been lobbying for an all-year lighting scheme on Kent Street.

The Guardian first reported on this in March, following an initial presentation by Discover Charlottetown to the Public Works & Urban Beautification Committee meeting on March 26, 2021 (sound muted until 7 minutes in). It should be noted that presenter Shallyn Murray, who works at Nine Yards Studio, which will manage the project, is a resident member of the City’s Planning Board.

The final version of the project—along with requests for financial support—was presented to the Committee on August 25, 2021.

CBC posted an article on September 17, explaining that “The marketing firm [Discover Charlottetown] is planning to install overhead cables which will run along the section of the street thatʼs between Great George and Prince streets in the cityʼs downtown.”

Here’s the kicker: “The City of Charlottetown has agreed to cover the cost of changing the decorations, which is estimated to cost between $10,000 and $40,000 per year.”

Seasonal change-out schedule for the Kent Street overhead lighting project
Source: City of Charlottetown – Monthly Council Meeting Package, Sept. 13, 2021 (p. 440)

Readers will note that the images above do not portray Kent Street.

Add to that: “The city will also pick up costs of the yearly inspection of the cable connections, which are estimated to be about $2,500.

Screen shot of Discover Charlottetown's request to City Council to consider public funding request for the Kent Street overhead lighting project
Source: City of Charlottetown – Monthly Council Meeting Package, Sept. 13, 2021 (p. 429)

City of Charlottetown Resolution to approve the Kent Street overhead lighting project

Food-for-thought questions

In terms of urban beautification, would you qualify the Kent Street overhead lighting project as effective and efficient public spending?

Do you agree with executive director of Discover Charlottetown Heidi Zinnʼs question “… what better way to market a city than create a space for people to take pictures of, that they’ll take pictures of again and again and again … ?”

If you could allocate $40,000 annually toward urban beautification, what do you believe would be worth improving or investing in, and that residents across Charlottetown could make use of all year long?

More on Governance:

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” !

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!