A V I E W F R O M C H A R L O T T E T O W N , P R I N C E E D W A R D I S L A N D
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Tree cutting is going on in high gear in the city right now. Last week two large trees were cut down in Hillsborough Square - one a linden and the other a 40 year, or so, maple. We were told that they were dying and might fall on someone. Are we convinced that the city is getting the best advice and if they are, should they not be sharing the information before they take out their saws. And what about trees on private property - like on front lawns or backyards. Is it right that we each have the right to diminish our tree cover without an explanation .
Charlottetown has been planting trees for almost 150 years. Our trees are an exceptional resource to our community - visually and ecological. Should we not be re-establishing the old Arbour Society? And should we not be demanding explanations and second opinions on every tree that has been marked with a "X".
With December not so very far away should we be asking if the Christmas Light Show is coming back bigger and better than ever? More seriously should we be asking if last year was worth the effort and cost, at all? Did the lights really bring anyone here to shop? And more seriously were they indigenous to our town?
Saturday afternoon the 9th, a sting raid occurred on all the bootleggers that operate in the city - at least in the Dorchester Street area. It was once said that bootleggers " met a social need", but the spin offs are annoying to say the least. Late hours, urinating on the streets and a complete disregard for the neighbourhood is not helpful. Surely we can address the social and neighbourhood needs and still allow our bootlegger- users a way to get a drink. It is difficult to understand why we still need these facilities these days when have so many places to drink now. So lets put our heads together and if we combine our stories and their needs we might move this problem along.
The Central Farmers Co-op voted to join others in the Atlantic area and form one large co-op. They had little choice . They were in debit $1.6M. For those from the downtown who attended the meetings there was no comfort that the Atlantic Co-op think urban, know their customer or care at all about our down town store. Those who have shopped on Queen Street thru the summer can attest to that. We still need a good up-to-date grocery and meat store to serve the downtown residents.
A couple of weeks ago a house was bulldozed on Water Street across from the Tourist Information Office. This city block was a very early settled one and had a special scale to it. Now we have two gapping holes in it [the previous one from a fire a few years ago]. The city had no recourse but to issue a demolition permit. The house was not designated nor was it in the heritage area. Until the 500 lots are designated as a special planning area this sudden removable of buildings can happen near you. A special study group could be established to review just how this issue impacts and should be addressed.
STREETSCAPE DESIGN STUDY
The special plan for The Heritage Area that we heard about at the last meeting has not gone anywhere that we can see yet.. It appears now as if it might be getting "ready" to go to a City Council meeting so the public process can begin, but it is slow. It puts the investors in the downtown in a limbo. You will see in the newspapers soon that there was a public meeting on the Founders' Hall Project on September 20th. At the same meeting there were two other matters in the downtown on the agenda: The Johnny Reid site on Weymouth Street and the property beside the Pattterson Palmer Hunt Murphy Building.
The new city garage on McAleer Drive is almost finished and the move to it is expected sometime in November. That leaves the old garage on the corner of Weymouth and Water Street to be dealt with. The land was zoned R3 a few years ago so I hope we will see a residential use of this site in the near future. AND the Public Works fleet of trucks etc. will no longer be blocking the water view on the south.
Since our spring meeting, we have had a number of new residents move into the downtown or at least have changed their domicile to make a more serious commitment to this space. One is, of course, our well known chairman Peter Rukavina who purchased the old [certainly over 165 year old] Bill Reid House on Prince Street.
Many of us became missionaries in encouraging more residents for the downtown and, as we have said, we generally believe that the merit of living downtown is one of the city's great secrets.
Just to state clearly, the city residents will be going to the polls on November 6th and those who decide they are going to throw their hat into the ring must do so by October 13th. This is a fine time to make your vision of the community clear to our candidates. So get your thoughts clear and your causes well defined and have them ready at your door for your visitors. The Residents group will arrange another meeting before election day and we'll ask our candidates to come talk to us and share their vision of the downtown.
On September 15th tenders closed on a new or renovated liquor store for the downtown. The liquor commission is stating its geographic area of interest is between Kent Street and the water. Word has it that CADC is looking to put it on the waterfront. It doesn't take much of a change to move the centre of a community into another space. Are Charlottetown residents ready to give up Queen and Grafton as their town centre? Mercantile changes these days are major and hard to read. It is difficult to really see the true impact of each decision as it comes up, but we have to try. Sometimes you have to go with your gut feelings, common sese and conscience. One thing is clear if we don't use the downtown centre we will lose it!
The Festival of the Lights, The Festival of The Fathers and the Shellfish Festival are over for another year. It seems to us that a genuine effort was made to be more considerate of the downtown neighbourhood. Your views both positive and negative would be helpful for the planners for next year.
THE CAR AND PARKING
If we are committed to living down town it seems likely that we are committed to " less-car". Issues like public transportation, more parking garages, removal of parking meters, traffic patterns, noise and residential parking are all matters that impact on downtown residents more than is generally recognized. It would be a good subject for a meeting, all on its own.
Those who live anywhere south of Richmond Street can attest to the problem of noise from the waterfront bars on the weekends. It seems hard to imagine that our sleep must be disturbed until after 2 o'clock in the morning on Friday and Saturday nights. If anyone had a decibel reader we think think it would be "case closed". Please add your voice to this issue.
DOWNTOWN BUSINESS ASSOC.
Harry O'Connell who is the chair of the DBA spoke to us at our last get together and he and his group have been moving along. In a quote in the Guardian recently he noted "what we have to do is reinvigorate our area and capitalize on its strengths". Sometime we don't recognize the best attributes of our city and we certainly don't blow our own horn enough on our assets. What we desperately need is an understanding of who our year around audience is and what are their needs. We think we are an impressive group and a dependable one for a community to build on.
The new garden in the square took some getting use to but haven't we notice how people are using it. When the perennial garden happens next summer and, hopefully, the Rhododendrons get planted we should have a most magnificent square.
Mandate [first draft]
To stabilize the residential area in downtown Charlottetown by supporting the people who invest their time, creative energies, money and spirit to improve the ambience and beauty of this very special capital city for the twelve month users. In addition, we wish to protect the heritage and rich architectural qualities, maintain the scale and encourage the preservation of the existing businesses and the establishment of new ones to enrich the life in the downtown.
Written Wednesday, September 20, 2000 at 08:42 AM