PEI

Hotel dominates P.E.I.'s Province House: author

Charlottetown city officials made a mistake by allowing the new Homburg hotel to overshadow the historic view of Province House, says the author of a new book on legislatures in the Maritimes.
The Homburg hotel is the first building visible behind Province House in Charlottetown. ((Pat Martel/CBC))

Charlottetown city officials made a mistake by allowing the new Homburg hotel to overshadow the historic view of Province House, says the author of a new book on legislatures in the Maritimes.

James Macnutt, author of Building for Democracy, wants the city to take steps to protect the remaining backdrop. The view coming up Great George Street from the waterfront to Province House has changed little since the Fathers of Confederation made the walk in 1864. The only backdrop was the sky.

But over the summer the new 10-storey Homburg hotel began to dominate the skyline behind Province House. It will be P.E.I.'s tallest building, and the only one visible behind the provincial legislature building.

"I'm deeply disappointed. I think the citizens of Charlottetown should be deeply disappointed that that building was allowed to go there," said Macnutt.

"It is inappropriate in the location: its scale, its mass, its overall appearance."

Mayor Clifford Lee is surprised people are raising this issue now. Lee said there were public meetings, and he believes the city has struck a balance between protecting heritage and moving forward. "Do I think Province House should be a special case, compared to what?" he asked.

"Province House is an important building in downtown Charlottetown but there are many other important buildings in downtown Charlottetown."

House Speaker Kathleen Casey has control over Province House but not outside the grounds. She hopes something will be done to prevent more high buildings from overshadowing the landmark.

"As one of the most prominent buildings in Prince Edward Island, some consideration should be taken in the future," said Casey.

For now, people looking for a picture of Province House with only sky in the background can still get it, but they will have to shoot from the southwest corner.

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