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GUEST OPINION: Non-resident corporations are building on heritage property

An image of Charlottetown from the city's Official Plan, revised in May 2020.
An image of Charlottetown from the city's Official Plan, revised in May 2020.

Wayne Carver
Guest opinion

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Please, Mr. Mayor, say no more. Your every utterance speaks to your discomfort. The residents of our small capital city are all too familiar with the transference of prime heritage property to local developers. From the time developers claimed the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation (CADC) was ill suited to develop the waterfront until 2017, when the former premier brought the CADC and the Summerside Regional Development Corporation (SRDC ) under the wing of the provincial government to manage development of downtown Charlottetown, most citizens could chart the course this battle was taking. Citizens realized the prime heritage properties were the prey of developers and investors. Suspicions were confirmed when the properties were wrest from CADC, for shortly thereafter the province seemed to lose all interest in waterfront development.

There is no silver lining to this project. The elected officials who were supposed to be looking after the interests of the citizens, manipulated and abused their authority to facilitate the sale of the best prime heritage waterfront property in the city. That property will soon become the asset of non-resident corporate developers, if it hasn’t already. The REIT signs on the building will say it all. Thanks a lot.

All this is being accommodated by the new Municipal Government Act (MGA) and enthusiastic city councillors who seem quite proud of their roles in making this happen.

The Municipal Government Act has been created to grow our economy, plain and simple. The growth will benefit the party insiders and the contractors but the cost will be borne by the taxpayer and there is only one taxpayer; most of whom can ill afford an increase in taxes. Our recent experience with COVID-19 has shown us growing the economy is not necessarily where we want to go. To see our government pursuing these projects in the middle of a global pandemic and unprecedented national debt is unsettling and irresponsible. Our national deficit will be in the trillions, not billions. Politicians are using the term “as of right” to support economic growth, but the definition is wishy washy at best and utterly meaningless in terms of property acquisition. It can mean whatever the strongest proponents want it to be. Initiatives such as this are never about the quality of life for citizens but rather the financial well being of our so called elite. Why has the provincial and municipal administration not challenged this claim. It is a murky description, vague and meaningless.

The MGA is based upon the acquisition of wealth, not democratic values and the quality of life. That is why recent provincial governments have been gingerly pushing the act forward, hoping the electorate will not realize their democratic rights are being stomped upon. Under the MGA, councillors will be responsible for deciding on public policy such as the waterfront development and citizens will not be consulted. That is also why successive governments have not discussed the MGA publicly and more importantly, that is why the MGA has never been put to a public vote. The time has come to repeal and amend the act now, before citizens lose all rights to provide input on public policy.

Elected officials, at either the municipal or provincial level, who would not fight tooth and nail to keep the province’s waterfront and heritage properties from becoming assets of non-resident corporations, have not earned their salt. What has taken place here is reprehensible if not treasonous. The citizens of Charlottetown would be fully justified in asking this administration to step down.


Wayne Carver is a member of Vision P.E.I. who lives in Longcreek.

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