Angry words for Charlottetown developers from standing-room-only crowd

Nigel Armstrong
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Published on February 24, 2016

Charlottetown city council hosted a public meeting Wednesday night to get input from the public on the proposed development on Chesnut and Passmore Streets. Also on the agenda were developments on Harley Street, Belevedere Avenue and Emerald Drive.

Published on February 24, 2016

An architect's rendition of a 50-unit apartment complex being proposed by developer Philip O'Halloran to replace eight residential properties between Chestnut and Passmore streets.

Published on February 24, 2016

Photo of area on Harley Street that once saw residential homes, now levelled by developer Kevin MacDonald of Taylor Built Homes. He wants rezoning of the land to allow the construction of a 40-unit apartment building.

Published on February 24, 2016

Graphic of proposed 40-unit apartment building for vacant land on Harley Street proposed by developer Kevin MacDonald of Taylor Built Homes.

Published on February 24, 2016

Proposed 7,000 square-foot development to house a new location for Sports Centre Physiotherapy just east of its current location on Belvedere Avenue.

Published on February 24, 2016

Grey shaded lot shows location for proposed 7,000 square-foot development to house a new location for Sports Centre Physiotherapy. The new location, across the street from Belvedere Dental Clinic, is just east on the same block as the physiotherapy centre's current location.

Philip O’Halloran says bulldozers will improve Chestnut street, but meets residents both for, against

Frustration expressed in words came face to face with support expressed in applause at a meeting in Charlottetown Wednesday night looking at housing developments.

A standing-room only crowd of nearly 70 people packed into Provinces Lounge at the Rodd Charlottetown Hotel to hear of four developments, each requesting a rezoning to allow it to proceed.

Each proposal sought to convert residential lots into zones that would allow apartment complexes in two cases, a townhouse in one case and a physiotherapy clinic in another.

"Every development tonight has a common denominator, get rid of low-density residential neighbourhoods," said resident Jake Bartlett.

FACTBOX: Items on the agenda

He read from the city's official plan that said neighbourhoods should be preserved and he asked the council to follow that principle.

Leading off the evening was the most controversial development, an apartment complex proposed between Chestnut and Passmore streets.

Developer Philip O’Halloran said he is going to improve the neighbourhood by tearing down eight dilapidated homes to make room for a three-story complex of 50 apartment units with indoor parking and commercial space on the ground floor.

RELATED: Developer looks forward to public meeting on eight-home demolition

He said meetings with area residents last year gave him the impression there was support for his plan.

"I left there with what I felt was a pretty clear mandate to change the culture of the neighbourhood, which I felt would be best done with a bulldozer," said O'Halloran.

He unveiled a design that looks the same as his apartment complex now essentially complete along Grafton Street at the corner of Prince Street.

Judith Bayliss with the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities asked about ways the proposed building will be accessible, which opened the door to a broader issue.

"Even if they are accessible, they are unaffordable," she said of finding places for people to live.

"This project can be affordable," said O'Halloran, going on to suggest rent subsidies for low-income tenants was a "math equation that we can address with government."

That brought forward resident Greg MacKey who called O'Halloran's plans "Trump bravado."

"What you are doing here is changing the fabric of that neighbourhood," said MacKey.

Others agreed, saying the proposed building will block sunlight for neighbours and is completely out of proportion to its surroundings.

His and similar comments through the evening were punctuated with mild applause from the crowd.

The biggest round of applause, however, came from former city police officer Steve Vaive. He told the meeting he owns two properties on Passmore street across from the proposed apartment.

"I renovate homes," said Vaive. "That's what I do for a living. The homes that he is proposing to tear down, the cost of everything today, you couldn't fix those homes up and rent them affordably.

"I think it's progress," said Vaive. "I think it's a great development. I think we should be behind it," said Vaive as applause built up around him.

Only a few speakers opposed suggestions for an apartment complex of 40 units being proposed to be added to ones recently completed on Harley Street.

Like O’Halloran's development, the issue was the drastic increase in the density of residents the new units will bring to the neighbourhood.

Changing the nature of the surrounding area was also a concern raised about a plan to make a townhouse on the corner of Emerald Drive and Queen Street.

The only development to receive praise was a move of Sports Centre Physiotherapy from the corner of Belvedere Ave and Mount Edward Road to a lot further down on Belvedere. That will allow the business to build a new 7,000 square foot centre.

Organizations: Rodd Charlottetown Hotel, P.E.I. Council of People

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Grafton Street, Prince Street Belvedere Harley Street Emerald Drive Queen Street Mount Edward Road

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Recent comments

  • J
    February 26, 2016 - 09:34

    If the people make up the neighbourhood not the buildings, then what will the people live in? Obviously the owners of the current buildings aren't interested in fixing them up or they would haven't gotten to the shape they're in now. A developer wants to invest his own money and develop this area ( and surely profit is involved) then the residents should say "Thank you." Charlottetown residents seem to have a way of discouraging any new development, maybe developers should take their money and say "See ya."

  • This Person
    February 25, 2016 - 12:43

    Enormous pressure on the current residents to sell. And tearing down homes before asking? City Hall has no control or willfully ignores such infractions. >Only a few speakers opposed suggestions for an apartment complex of 40 units being proposed to be added to ones recently completed on Harley Street. How does tearing down buildings and making everyone leave "fix up the neighbourhood"? Isn't a neighbourhood the people not the buildings?

    • Dan
      February 25, 2016 - 23:58

      Obviously you haven't been up to date on this matter. He owns those houses he's tearing down. No buying or selling involved. And those homes a literally falling in on them selves. It would cost way too much to repair and bring up to code. I strongly applaud him.

  • Andy
    February 25, 2016 - 06:31

    I was there last night and I really have no opinion on the proposed developments for Chestnut-Passmore nor Harley Street. I wouldn't say that the words were angry necessarily (perhaps Nigel Armstrong interpreted it differently than I did?) . Property development change concerns some people while others are pro-property development. Certainly there were NIMBY opinions too, but there were many people excited about the potential. The concerns I heard were mostly about the increasing lack of affordable housing in the Charlottetown area, particularly close to downtown. But that has nothing to do with the developers. That is a public policy issue that our elected officials need to address. And we the people elect public office holders based on the platform they present. If we want affordable housing or subsidized housing, then we need to elect people that can make that happen.

  • mike
    February 25, 2016 - 06:20

    God forbid you clean up the area and increase property value! The city should be encouraging this type of development. Growing up in chtown this area and several streets in behind were all looked at as the gutter/bronxs of chtown! Bootleggers and low rental, lots of crime etc.......clean the area up! This will have a snowball effect and the area property value will increase and helping those who own property in the area! Oh and I hope the dentist office on Belvedere ave goes to IRAC shame on you for turning him down and approving across the street shame on you!

  • J
    February 25, 2016 - 06:05

    Those residents of Chestnut St. should be happy that some of the old buildings will be gone and something decent put up in their place. Also that the developer is willing to put money into their community; albeit, he stans to earn a profit too. Charlottetown is a great community for fighting those who want to put money out into improving things.

  • no thanks
    February 25, 2016 - 04:57

    great for increased traffic and more at home business models -- the drug market will thrive