The final report for the Charlottetown waterfront is now in the hands of the planning board.
Jill Robertson, with Dartmouth-based Ekistics Planning and Design presented the final document from her company at a special meeting of council Monday night.
The report presents a 20 to 30-year vision for the area south of Water Street and west of West Street.
"There are a number of really big themes that we touched on," said Robertson. "No development is better than bad development. It's really important that moving forward from today, that we are looking for that elevated standard of development for the waterfront.
"That includes even waiting until market conditions change such that the type of development we are talking about becomes cost effective," said Robertson.
All development needs to include public access to and public interest in the waterfront, she said.
"There needs to be an element of public benefit," said Robertson.
The report came after three months of consultations, a public walking tour, a public meeting, an online survey and Facebook updates.
The final report sets four storey's as the maximum height for development on Water Street, and six storeys everywhere else.
There is a chance for developers to prove they have included some measurable public benefit in their plan, which will allow two additional storeys if approved after public meetings.
"There is a formula we have proposed in the plan," said Richardson. "(The public benefit) has to be measurable."
That could be construction of public roads needed in the area, or creation of parkland and pedestrian right-of-ways.
The plan suggests a new waterfront zone and a new port zone with highly specific zoning bylaws.
At present the only criteria affecting waterfront development is the building size and how the building will be used.
This new system, called a form-based system, will have rules for the style of cladding, street-facing design requirements, heights, water-view sight line preservation and even requiring any flat roof to be planted with vegetation.
The plan demands multi-use buildings so they are not all residential or all office use. It requires active use of the first floor so ground level cannot be residential. Parking has to be underground.
Developers will have to pay for a review process, including review by a professional designer drawn from a pre-approved list of regional professionals in the Atlantic provinces.
A developer must present a fully completed, certified set of plans, not some idea drawn up on the back of a napkin, said Robertson.
Councillor Mitchell Tweel asked how it was decided that four storey's of building was better than no buildings at all.
"We heard from the public that they wanted to see the best possible open space on the waterfront," said Robertson. "Financially it is not realistic to expect council and the tax role to be able to fund that open space. So if we are looking at having cutting edge open space we need to have development to pay for that, so what is that balance of development that is going to be appropriate for the community?
"Developers need to have a certain density to be able to make money to be able to afford to develop open space for the community," said Robertson.
Then Tweel wanted to know if the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation, which owns much of the land and is committed to development, was in agreement.
"Who calls the shots?" asked Tweel.
The city will have to continue its excellent relationship with CADC using this plan as a guide, Tweel was told by Mayor Clifford Lee and other councillors.
"(The report) says 'there have been a number of developments recently which would directly contravene the intentions of this plan,' " said Councillor Rob Lantz. 'These developments have little or no active ground-floor uses, vast quantities of surface parking surrounding the building, no public open space giving back to the community, lack of coordinated architectural vernacular and more suburban site-planning treatment than an urban treatment.' "
Those errors gave rise to the creation of this plan which suggests an entirely different, more precise approach to waterfront development, said Lantz.
Planning board will review the report and make its recommendations to council at some later date, the meeting was told. Public meetings are required for the zoning and bylaw changes proposed in the plan.