Imagine a waterfront in Charlottetown with a beach, longer and wider boardwalk, cafes and kiosks.
That's a mere portion what things could look like 30 years from now according to a planning and design expert.
For the first time since the 1970s, the capital city is giving serious thought to a long-term plan for the waterfront and the plan is to strike the right balance between development and open green space.
Jill Robertson, with Dartmouth-based Ekistics Planning and Design, spent about an hour at a public meeting Tuesday night laying out some ambitious possibilities for the waterfront.
And there is plenty of interest in what is going to happen over the next three decades judging from the fact the main ballroom at the Charlottetown Hotel was packed.
Robertson said the guiding principles are to balance development and green space, ensure that residents feel connected to it and that the character and design of development makes sense.
She pointed out to any skeptics in the audience that ambitious change over 30 years is very possible. Three decades ago, Charlottetown's waterfront was essentially an industrial wasteland of railway cars and massive oil drums. That changed when the city decided to give the area a long-term makeover that has resulted in what exists today.
The vision going forward — remember these are all possibilities — includes 700 new residential units, 10,000 square feet of new commercial space, extending the boardwalk from Victoria Park right to the Hillsborough Bridge, widening the boardwalk to four metres and renaming it 'Victoria Passage'.
She also mentioned the possibility of having the city 'passively' acquiring private land to extend the boardwalk that would be done over the years.
The focus of Confederation Landing Park would change. It would feature more housing in the park area, no more parking lot but the new buildings would have outdoor cafes for food and drink.
Robertson said an emphasis should be put on green space, not whatever is left over acting as green space.
The old Queen's Wharf (the former Coast Guard building next to Delta Prince Edward) could serve as a second dock for cruise ships. Robertson emphasized that the bottom of Queen Street should remain open to allow residents to see the water.
Ekistics' plan calls for almost all parking along the waterfront to be located underground.
Next to Paoli's Wharf, there would be a beach with sand where families could build sand castles.
If and when the federal government divests the Queen Charlotte Armories land, Robertson said that area would be extremely important to the development plan with emphasis on green space.
Robertson said all this is estimated to cost $140 million over the next 30 years but will create jobs and get more people to the waterfront and that will help the economy.
Residents are invited to view the draft report on the City of Charlottetown's website at www.city.charlottetown.pe.ca and provide input before Ekistics presents city council with the final report by Dec. 17.
Mayor Clifford Lee said council will either adopt it as presented, tinker with it or send it back to the drawing board.
If council accepts it, it could be adopted in the city's bylaws by spring.
The Guardian will have more on this story later this week.