Charlottetown city council chose Monday to side with the need for more housing in the capital rather than follow the wishes of residents.
And the matter left Ward 4 Coun. Mitchell Tweel fuming.
At the regular public monthly meeting, council was first faced with a resolution that called for it to reject a resolution that would see the owner of the property at 71 and 73 Upper Prince Street renovate to include an additional six apartments, giving the building a total of 11 apartments.
They would be long-term rentals.
The city’s planning department had recommended approval but, following a public meeting where area residents spoke out against the proposal, the planning committee chose to recommend that council reject it.
However, council voted 6-3 against rejecting the proposal with councillors Mitchell Tweel, Bob Doiron and Jason Coady in favour of rejecting it.
Then, another resolution came to the floor, one which asked council whether they were in favour of allow the six units to go ahead. It was 6-3 again.
“I am totally shocked,’’ Tweel said. “I am very upset. When we go through the public consultation process we ask the citizens to become a part of the decision-making process. If we don’t want the citizens to be a part of the decision-making process then let’s be up front and state that from the outset.
“How this decision was arrived at tonight has to go down in history as one of the most end-around approaches that I’ve ever, ever experienced,’’ Tweel said, referring to the fact he was caught off guard.
Tweel argues Upper Prince Street is already stressed enough with traffic and development without adding more by allowing six more apartment units to go in.
Coun. Greg Rivard, chairman of the planning committee, said he doesn’t vote at the committee level and chose to support it against his committee’s wishes comes down to the need for create places for people to live. Charlottetown’s vacancy rate as of the end of 2018 was 0.2 per cent.
“We’re certainly in a crisis situation right now and density anywhere is important,’’ Rivard said. “I looked through the merits of the project and what it was and I felt that six units in that area is certainly a welcome addition for the housing crisis that we’re in.’’
Rivard reiterated they will be long-term rentals and the applicant will enter into a development agreement to ensure it stays that way. The applicant has also agreed to go through a design review process even though they don’t have to because the property is outside the 500 Lot area. This process ensures that any work done is tasteful and blends in with the neighbourhood.
Shawn Shea, the applicant, recently said the proposed development fits in the 18,780 square feet landmass and that no variances are required.
Councillors Terry MacLeod and Alanna Jankov also explained that they were supporting the need for more housing in the city.
“We were blindsided,’’ Tweel said in reference to himself and the residents who opposed to proposal at the recent public meeting.