'10 storeys is dangerous': Residents question downtown plan

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'10 storeys is dangerous': Residents question downtown plan

A group of Summerside residents held a public meeting Thursday evening to discuss their concerns about downtown development.

Members of the Summerside and Area Historical Society hosted the town hall meeting because they are unhappy with the Urban Core Plan that is going before council, and they don't think the public has been adequately consulted.

The Urban Core Plan was developed by urban planning group Ekistics. Among its recommendations, it suggests allowing buildings up to 10 storeys in the downtown core, and would require any new buildings downtown be at least 3 storeys high.

The city's planning board has recommended that council adopt the plan, but council still has to vote on its approval.

Concerns about blocking waterfront

About 50 people showed up for the public meeting, and a handful voiced their concerns about the plan. Most said they are not opposed to development, but they don't want large buildings blocking the waterfront.

"I feel that having the option of going to 10 storeys is dangerous," said Paula Kenny, who manages the Eptek Art and Culture Centre in downtown Summerside.

"To me, it's much safer to say you have a maximum of five storeys."

Some also said the need for more housing downtown is being overstated.

"This city has not grown an inch in 60 years in population," said Summerside resident Art Noonan.

"To think that down the road it's going to triple and quadruple in size, it's not going to happen."

Not well enough informed

George Dalton, the past president of the Summerside and Area historical society, is not happy with the proposed plan, and he wanted to hold the meeting in part to make other people aware of the plan.

"I think the public was not informed," said Dalton.

"It's about democracy, and I don't think democracy has been the end result here."

But Summerside Mayor Bill Martin said there have been a number of opportunities for the public to give input. Martin said he recently spoke with Rob LeBlanc, the plan's project manager.

"In all of the city plans that he has done in the last 25 years, this had the most public consultation of any," said Martin.

Support for the plan

Some people at the meeting, including some local business owners, expressed their support of the plan.

"You can't run a business if there's no people, and you do need to bring people downtown," said Sean Aylward, owner of The Humble Barber and vice president of the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce.

He said he hopes the plan will attract more families and businesses to Summerside.

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