Charlottetown council approves zoning for Holland College residence

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Charlottetown council approves zoning for Holland College residence

Holland College will be able to build a proposed student residence in Charlottetown over the protests of residents who say they won't be to find other apartments they can afford.

The residence is planned for the corner of Cumberland and Grafton Streets, across from the Prince of Wales campus.

Charlottetown city council approved the necessary rezoning requests during its council meeting Monday evening. Seven properties are being rezoned, which will allow Holland College to build a four-storey student residence.

The motion was carried unanimously by council.

Tenants opposed

The proposal has been met with opposition from the current tenants of the buildings, including residents and business owners, who will be displaced when Holland College takes over.

Many of those tenants attended the council meeting. The gallery was packed with more than 40 people, with some spilling out into the hallway.

Madan Giri, one of the residents who will lose his home, said he is very worried about finding a new apartment that he can afford.

"If they provide us the affordable housing, we'll move there. We don't have any problem," said Giri 

"We are not opposing the city council proposal. We are saying that, please provide us house and everything in a reasonable way."

He said he doesn't think two-months' notice will be enough time to find an affordable apartment.

'Not one concern raised'

When the motion was introduced in council, Counc. Greg Rivard, chair of the city's planning committee, addressed the room, and said he recognized that difficult situation the tenants are in. There was one question from Counc. Terry Bernard, and no other discussion on the motion.

Giri said he was upset to see council spend little time on the motion, and then spend at least 40 minutes discussing another motion, which dealt with a proposed four-storey apartment building at 55 and 59 Richmond Street. Much of the discussion focused on concerns about parking, and the distance between patios. That motion was ultimately deferred.

Rosalind Waters, who worked for 20 years with adults with intellectual disabilities, echoed that feeling. She said she knows many of the residents who will be affected, and left the council meeting feeling "appalled."

"We heard councilors talking about how, you know, members of the community, in this community [on Richmond Street], had a right to feel secure, and know that they have parking spots. And they've lived there a long time, and we should kind of take care of them," said Waters.

"But when it comes to demolishing about 20 low rental apartments, and two really vibrant businesses run by immigrants and refugees, there was not one question, not one concern raised, about the security of these folks, who have also lived in their community for at least 7, 8 , 9, in some cases 30 years."

'There's a process to follow'

Rivard said he supports affordable housing, but said it's a separate issue, not connected to the rezoning application.

"There was nothing in that application with regards to affordable housing," said Rivard.

He further noted that the units in these buildings are not subsidized by the government, and are not considered "affordable housing" in that sense.

"We look at and sympathize with residence any time that things like this happen. But the difficult part is that there's a process to follow," said Rivard.

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