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City of Charlottetown takes its Eastern Gateway Waterfront Master Plan back to public for discussion

George Dark, left, an urban planner from Toronto, and Coun. Greg Rivard, chairman of Charlottetown’s planning committee, go over one of the drawings from the Eastern Gateway Waterfront Master Plan. This artistic concept depicts Charlottetown as approached from the Hillsborough Bridge, with a roundabout at Grafton/Water/Riverside streets and a new beach on the left.
George Dark, left, an urban planner from Toronto, and Coun. Greg Rivard, chairman of Charlottetown’s planning committee, go over one of the drawings from the Eastern Gateway Waterfront Master Plan. This artistic concept depicts Charlottetown as approached from the Hillsborough Bridge, with a roundabout at Grafton/Water/Riverside streets and a new beach on the left. - Dave Stewart

The eastern end of Charlottetown could be getting a major makeover over the next number of decades.

The City of Charlottetown has put the Eastern Gateway Waterfront Master Plan back up for discussion, a plan the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation originally commissioned in 2011.

A public meeting was held in Charlottetown on Tuesday night.

Coun. Greg Rivard, chairman of the city’s planning committee, said the plan represents a tremendous opportunity and challenge for the city.

“The eastern gateway is the primary entrance into Charlottetown from the eastern end of the Island,’’ Rivard said. “It is very important that this area of the city be designed in a manner that provides a very good impression to those coming into historic Charlottetown.’’

The provincial government is already talking about what is likely to be the first part of the plan — building a roundabout at one of the busiest intersections in the province, Grafton Street and Riverside Drive, to address traffic concerns and improve pedestrian and bike traffic over the bridge.

This image depicts the proposed street network set-up for the Charlottetown Eastern Gateway. A public meeting on the plans was held in Charlottetown Tuesday night.
This image depicts the proposed street network set-up for the Charlottetown Eastern Gateway. A public meeting on the plans was held in Charlottetown Tuesday night.

As for the city’s involvement, the plan calls for the city to expand the Charlottetown Event Grounds, an expansion that would include a beach at the foot of the Charlottetown approach to the Hillsborough Bridge. And, with upgrades to the nearby wastewater treatment plant, the city is quick to boast that the water is safe to swim in.

The plan would see Water Street diverted away from the Grafton Street/Riverside Drive intersection. Water Street would instead bend in behind the event grounds and reconnect with a roundabout at Grafton Street.

Over by Eastlink Centre, Pond Street would be cut off from Riverside Drive and instead loop with Beach Street.

The plan also includes drawings for a new multi-purpose arena where the provincial garage is. There’s been no start date on that project, but the city has a steering committee looking for funding partners.

“This is a great opportunity to take advantage of the large amount of existing open space in this area by creating a long-term vision for how it can be integrated together to create a park-like setting similar to Victoria Park,’’ Rivard said about the beachfront property.

“This plan attempts to address some historical issues related to surface water collecting in and around Joe Ghiz Park. The plan attempts to work with the natural water flows in this area and create retention ponds to collect and manage this surface water runoff more effectively.’’

It should be noted that city council has not yet adopted this plan as policy, but Alex Forbes, manager of planning, said what it does give council is guidance.

“If a private developer comes in, council can look at this plan and determine if it’s going to interfere with the city’s long-term vision of the eastern gateway,’’ Forbes said. “It’s really to protect the intent of what we’re trying to achieve. We don’t want somebody putting a building in the middle of a roadway or compromising the ability to bring this into effect in the future.’’

George Dark, with Urban Strategies in Toronto who was in Charlottetown for Tuesday’s public meeting, said people also should remember there is no rush to get everything done at once. He pointed to the years it took to transform the old Texaco tank farm into Confederation Landing Park as an example.

“It could take you 50 years to accomplish this, and there’s nothing wrong with that,’’ Dark said. “What’s in (this plan) is worth that level of effort. It’s largely about creating the kind of structural framework inside the actual city to give you something worth having for a long time.’’

Forbes said creating a beach might involve trucking in sand and dredging that part of the harbour to get rid of the gooey, gummy bottom.

Dark suggested creating a facility for common boating in the beach area, a place where people could rent canoes, for example.

Stratford Mayor David Dunphy said the town hopes to be included.

“It’s in the preliminary stage, but as the plan potentially progresses we look forward to being a part of the conversation to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and active transportation between Stratford and Charlottetown is enhanced,’’ Dunphy said.

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