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LETTER: I support Sherwood development in Charlottetown

APM’s plans for the Sherwood Crossing project between the Charlottetown Mall and Mount Edward Road.
APM’s plans for the Sherwood Crossing project between the Charlottetown Mall and Mount Edward Road.

C. Dietrich Friesen
Guest opinion


I am writing as a concerned citizen of Charlottetown to express my support for the planned development at Sherwood Crossing. I was happy to see that it passed first reading and it is my hope that the project is allowed to continue.

We have an endemic problem in this city of bowing to NIMBY pressure on any kind of density development. The concerns are always the same; increased traffic, not fitting in with the "character" of the neighborhood, and affordability. More often than not I find these concerns to be more than a bit overblown. And when it comes to this particular development they are downright absurd.

Firstly, traffic issues. This development is located next to a mall and in between two major thoroughfares leading in and out of town. Is there a possibility of increased traffic? Perhaps, but a growing city is bound to have increased traffic. Furthermore, this new development is perfectly located so as to attract seniors and people who want to minimize their use of a vehicle. All services (grocery, shopping, medical) will be within walking distance. It borders the Confederation Trail and sits on a transit route. It is within walking distance to UPEI and it's fitness facilities. Charlottetown, and especially the uptown area, are in need of a neighbourhood where people could live without their cars and maybe even revitalize the ailing mall. If anything this could be an opportunity to make the area even more attractive to transit and active transportation.

Secondly, "the character or the neighborhood". This is an infuriating argument at the best of times because cities grow and change and if things had to constantly conform to what has always been, this city would still be primarily farm land. That's not to say that historic preservation is not important. But the "character of the neighborhood" argument doesn't even apply here. This new development will sit on an underutilized piece of land that is next to parking lots, a mall and big box stores. If this isn't the ideal place of density and a new neighborhood, what is?

Thirdly, the question of affordability. This is one that is of great importance as there is clearly a crisis of rental affordability and availability in the city. From what I can see there are promised affordable units, though there is no mention of what affordable means or how long they will remain "affordable". I hope that you focus your attention on this question, but do not use it as an excuse to halt the development of not only housing, but the potential to add some vitality and a modern community to that part of town. If you were to push back on anything, I'd ask that you implore the developer to mix the affordable units in with the market units so as not to create a segregation of incomes.

All too often when a new housing development comes up in this city, the forces of privilege and NIMBYism mobilize and exert pressure on the city to quash it, and all too often they are successful. New developments require scrutiny to be sure. But the bulk of the arguments against this particular development are quite frankly asinine. I implore you to show some political will and think of the city's future. Do not side once again with those who look only to the past.

Dietrich Friesen is a resident of Charlottetown with a keen interest in equity, urban planning and sustainable development.

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