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

Nigel Armstrong NArmstrong@TheGuardian.pe.ca
Published on February 24, 2016
PUBLIC MEETING

Published on 24 February 2016

Nollaig Bonar, a resident of Douglas Street, speaks to a public meeting in Charlottetown held by city council to discuss the proposed new development on Chestnut and Passmore Streets. The development is being proposed by Philip O'Halloran and the city wanted input from residents and judging by the comments from people in the area, it is not welcome.

Photos by Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

PUBLIC MEETING

Published on 24 February 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.

Photos by Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

Chestnut Passmore apartment

Published on 24 February 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.

Photos by THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong

Harely Street apartment

Published on 24 February 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.

Photos by THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong

Harely Street apartments

Published on 24 February 2016

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

Photos by THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong

Sports Centre Physiotherapy

Published on 24 February 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.

Photos by THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong

Sports Centre Physiotherapy

Published on 24 February 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.

Photos by THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong

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.

FACTBOX

The following items were open for public discussion at a meeting Wednesday hosted by Charlottetown City council.

- Request to rezone five properties on Chestnut Street and four on Passmore Street to permit apartment building

- Resquest to rezone properties at 8-16 Harley St. to accommodate a three-storey 40-unit apartment building

- Request to rezone property at 51 Emerald Dr. to permit a three-unit townhouse

- Request to rezone 185 and 187 Belvedere Ave. to permit a new two-storey commercial building

RELATED: Charlottetown council halts Belvedere Dental Clinic expansion