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IRAC orders City of Charlottetown to cough up internal documents about asphalt plant

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown attempts to reason with a number of residents who live in the area of Sherwood Road. In June 2019, council approved a bylaw amendment that allows a second asphalt plant to be built in the city, namely the West Royalty Industrial Park and Sherwood Road. - SaltWire file photo
Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown attempts to reason with a number of residents who live in the area of Sherwood Road. In June 2019, council approved a bylaw amendment that allows a second asphalt plant to be built in the city, namely the West Royalty Industrial Park and Sherwood Road. - SaltWire file photo
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission has ordered the City of Charlottetown to release internal documents related to the controversial development of an asphalt plant on Sherwood Road.

The decision comes as a result of an appeal of a June decision by council to amend its zoning and development bylaw, which would allow the construction of the plant. Charlottetown council voted 5-4 in favour of the decision. 

The appeal was filed by Brown’s Volkswagen, Philips Suzuki, Centennial Auto Group and Cathy Feener, a resident of the area.

The local resident and the three businesses are among those who have protested the construction of the asphalt plant. Chapman Bros. of Souris, which plans to build the plant, has said it would be quiet and would be located far from the road.

Brothers Jeff, left, and Craig Chapman say the asphalt plant they are proposing for Sherwood Road in Charlottetown wouldn’t have nearly the negative impact that has been portrayed in the media. - SaltWire file photo
Brothers Jeff, left, and Craig Chapman say the asphalt plant they are proposing for Sherwood Road in Charlottetown wouldn’t have nearly the negative impact that has been portrayed in the media. - SaltWire file photo

After a preliminary hearing in the appeal, Feener and the three auto dealerships had requested further documents from the city. The city claimed that its submission already contained all records related to the amended bylaw.

In its decision, IRAC ordered the city to disclose internal documents connected to plans to develop the proposed plant. These include inquiries or applications related to the construction of asphalt plants in the city, communications between city employees or councillors and any developers about the proposed plant and communications between city employees and developers about the bylaw changes.

The city was also ordered to disclose records relating to a 2018 application by Chapman Bros. to construct an asphalt plant within the city. This application was withdrawn after opposition from local businesses and residents.

CITY 'FULLY COOPERATING'

In its decision, IRAC drew a distinction between this appeal and past challenges of city building permits. 

“The appeal at hand is one that deals with a bylaw amendment concerning the use that may be made of lands within a particular section of the bylaw,” IRAC wrote in its decision.

“Counsel (for Feener and the three auto dealerships) has advised that there is a concern over the lack of transparency of not providing these documents and that it is the City that is trying to dictate what documents are or are not relevant to the Appellants’ appeal.”

IRAC concluded the documents were relevant and that they would “assist the commission in obtaining a complete understanding of the issues raised in the notice of appeal.”

A statement from Alex Forbes, the city’s planning and heritage manager, said the city will be “fully co-operating with IRAC in this appeal process” and would provide the requested documents.

Further hearings into the appeal are planned for early 2020.

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