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Former planning expert says Charlottetown will regret approving eight-storey apartment on waterfront

Doug MacArthur, one of the many people who played a part in transforming the Charlottetown waterfront into what it is today, says the city must find a way to reconsider its decision to approve an eight-storey apartment building behind Renaissance Place on Haviland Street.
Doug MacArthur, one of the many people who played a part in transforming the Charlottetown waterfront into what it is today, says the city must find a way to reconsider its decision to approve an eight-storey apartment building behind Renaissance Place on Haviland Street. - Dave Stewart
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

One of the people who played a lead role in shaping the Charlottetown waterfront says the city is ruining decades of hard work.

Doug MacArthur is talking about council’s decision to approve a $30-million, eight-storey apartment building at 15 Haviland St., directly behind Renaissance Place (the former Sacred Heart Home).

“I do not like to see (all of the work) falling apart at this stage because so many things have been well done since the 1970s," MacArthur said in an interview last week, referring to the city’s waterfront.

MacArthur used to own his own planning firm, called Spatial Planning. He was also one of the federal government officials who worked on developing the waterfront over an industrial site to what it is today. To cite one example, with the help of the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation, the old Texaco tank farm was transformed into Confederation Landing Park.

MacArthur said he isn’t upset with Pan American Properties and owner Tim Banks, the developer leading the project, acknowledging that the property is as-of-right and was zoned in 2012 in such a way that allows a building of this size to be built on the waterfront.

Tim Banks
Tim Banks

 

“What he’s doing is maximizing profit. My problem is the city letting him do it because they have not done the proper due diligence."

MacArthur said his big concern is that the city’s design review board signed off on the project following a 17-minute meeting.

“I still think there is an opportunity to revisit this building. I think there are so many things wrong with the way the design committee went about it and I think there are so many inaccuracies in how this building complies with everything from heritage bylaws to all sorts of things."

This is an artist concept drawing of the proposed eight-storey, 99-unit apartment building for Haviland Street in Charlottetown.
This is an artist concept drawing of the proposed eight-storey, 99-unit apartment building for Haviland Street in Charlottetown.

 

MacArthur said people need to realize this eight-storey structure is going to tower over the neighbourhood buildings, which include Queen Charlotte Armouries, Renaissance Place and the Culinary Institute of Canada.

“This must not be allowed to proceed. The first thing the cruise ships will see is this building. New buildings on the waterfront should cannot overwhelm other neighbourhood buildings."

Coun. Greg Rivard, chairman of the planning and heritage committees, said the design review board did its due diligence.

“We have a board in place that has architects on it," Rivard said.

Greg Rivard
Greg Rivard

 

“They get reports prior to the meetings, so it is not like they are seeing (proposals) for the first time at the meetings. They’ve had these reports in their hands for a week.

“There are cases, sometimes, where they will reach out to our heritage or planning staff with questions prior to the meeting. A lot of the questions they may have had may have been answered ahead of time."

MacArthur still warns letting eight-storey buildings rise on the waterfront sets a dangerous precedent.

“I think if this proceeds it will be the worst project the waterfront has seen," MacArthur said.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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