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OPINION: Revitalize CADC with renewed vision, purpose

The Fitzroy Parkade, a project of the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation.
The Fitzroy Parkade, a project of the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation. - CADC

George MacDonald

Guest Opinion

As a proud former mayor of Charlottetown and past board member of the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation (CADC), I was pleased to read in your newspaper that Mayor Philip Brown was in discussion with our new premier Dennis King regarding the future of the CADC.

We must never underestimate the important leadership role the CADC plays in this capital city. It was the CADC that “took the reins” and acquired and developed the lands resulting in an orderly development of our waterfront. The beautiful waterfront that citizens and tourists now enjoy and rave about is a tribute to the CADC – a waterfront that is the envy of many.

It was also the CADC that assembled the land and supervised the construction of the three parking garages in Charlottetown. It was the CADC that secured the land for the Jean Canfield federal building in Charlottetown. It was the CADC that bought the land and developed the Invesco property in this city that now employs in the vicinity of 400 people.

It was the CADC that was instrumental in saving the three remaining Charlottetown CNR buildings from demolition – three properties that today are so important to the history and heritage of this city, and indeed Prince Edward Island.

The above mentioned are only a brief snapshot of the leadership role provided by the CADC in this city. All this occurred before government interference and a resulting loss of vision, a loss of imagination and a loss of purpose.

It is with shame, disappointment and anger that I write about the recent decisions of the CADC regarding Founders Hall and the land to its north and south. Without any public involvement, they have unloaded all three adjacent properties to an entrepreneur. Certainly not the fault of the entrepreneur, who simply took advantage of a good opportunity.

By this action, they have sold the last green space on the Charlottetown waterfront. Fortunately, the city repurchased that green area and saved it from development. It was great to see hundreds of people, young and old, enjoying the ice surface this past winter. Thank you, City of Charlottetown.

The Harbour Authority has repurchased Founders Hall, and as I understand, plan to use it as an urban market – a great and long overdue use for this property. Thank you, Harbour Authority.

There is now a proposed development for the area south of Founders Hall currently being used for parking. This site is the only available area for parking for the new market, and this new development will dwarf Founders Hall and its unique architectural heritage. Again, I don’t find fault with the developer for doing what developers do.

The fault belongs solely with the CADC and its decision to unload these properties to the highest bidder. Shame. I sincerely hope that the new premier will work with the city and the heritage and business community to find a way to revitalize the development corporation with a renewed vision and a true sense of purpose. I hope I can add one more thank you.

George MacDonald is a former mayor of Charlottetown and a past board member with the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation (CADC).

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