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EDITORIAL: Sink or float

The many pedestrians who take a stroll along the Charlottetown boardwalk on warm, sunny days may soon be able to enjoy the water view by venturing out on a floating dock. Coun. Mitchell Tweel, the chairman of the city's recreation and parks committee, hopes the dock will be dropped in place by the end of May.
The many pedestrians who take a stroll along the Charlottetown boardwalk on warm, sunny days may soon be able to enjoy the water view by venturing out on a floating dock. Coun. Mitchell Tweel, the chairman of the city's recreation and parks committee, hopes the dock will be dropped in place by the end of May. - Jim Day

It’s a case of shooting first and asking questions later.

We own a floating dock.

It’ll be ready to be dropped in the water off the Victoria Park boardwalk in Charlottetown in late May.

The city bought it for $51,000.

That was before the city knew if it had the jurisdiction to install it in the harbour.

That was also before the city had a formal agreement with the Charlottetown Harbour Authority.

Those issues appear close to being resolved.

They should have been resolved before we bought the dock in the first place, and city council approved the project last summer.

One issue that hasn’t been resolved is holding a public meeting and giving residents a say on the project.

Usually, you hold a public meeting or consultation on a project with taxpayers before you spend their money.

In this case, the process was backwards.

Some residents still want their public meeting before the dock hits the water. They’ve been asking for one for more than a year.

Newly elected Mayor Philip Brown said in November that a public meeting should have happened already, and still needs to occur.

But Coun. Mitch Tweel said at Thursday’s parks and recreation committee meeting that the idea of a public meeting is being explored.

The matter is expected to be brought up at another meeting on April 17, but that could be “in camera,” or closed off to the public and the media.

Residents are concerned about the impact the dock will have on traffic and parking along the boardwalk. They also suspect the floating dock will be an eyesore once it is installed and ruin the beautiful harbour view.

Some residents, especially those with mobility issues, prefer to enjoy the view from the comfort of their own vehicle.

The dock will stick out like a sore thumb, but it will give walkers and joggers on the boardwalk an extended route and a place to sit and relax. It will also give kayakers and paddle boarders a pit-stop on their journey.

Yes, parking is an issue at Victoria Park, and once tourist season starts, it is reasonable to expect that the floating dock will be somewhat of an attraction.

But in terms of the impact it will have on traffic and parking, that’s debatable.

After all, we’re talking about a floating dock and not a ride at Disney World with long lineups.

For residents with mobility issues or families with small children, the city needs to ensure there is sufficient parking. For other residents who drive to the boardwalk and take a walk, maybe leave the car home, or park in the nearby government lot after hours.

It’s hard to imagine what a public meeting would accomplish at this point, other than serving as an information session.

Regardless, we’re stuck with the floating dock. Let’s get it in the water so people can enjoy it.

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