PEI

Charlottetown could reopen asphalt plant decision

Charlottetown council's decision on asphalt plants may not be a done deal yet.

Packed public meeting Wednesday night asked mayor to come up with a solution

A packed room let their opinion known Wednesday night. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

Charlottetown council's decision on asphalt plants may not be a done deal yet.

At a public meeting held by concerned residents Wednesday night, the mayor agreed to look at options that may allow the vote to be reopened, including sending it to an official, city-held public meeting or having the vote rescinded. 

The city passed second reading of a bylaw amendment on June 21 that allows asphalt and concrete plants in heavy industrial zones. There are two of those zones in the city, the West Royalty Industrial Park and sections of Sherwood Road. 

That decision caused public outcry, including two protests, and eventually led to Wednesday's meeting where approximately 200 people packed the room at the West Royalty Community Centre.

The groups main concerns have been with increased pollution, truck traffic and property values if another plant (there is currently one on Sherwood Road) was allowed in the city.  The group also thinks the process to notify the public — a newspaper ad — was not clear enough about the proposed change. 

Crowd wants reconsideration

Wednesday night an angry crowd repeated those concerns.

"Are we going to gain from this? No," said Chris Oatway, a resident of West Royalty

West Royalty resident Chris Oatway angrily addressed the mayor, saying he has to do something to get the decision reversed. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"The residents of the city of Charlottetown are not going to gain. The environment is not going to gain. No one's going to gain other than corporate greed. That's all it is right now at this point, and the council needs to reverse the decision."

Meredith Cameron MacIsaac, who brought her two children to the meeting, said she needed to advocate on their behalf. 

"What I'm most disappointed and discouraged about, I guess, is the fact that we're here tonight, she said 

Meredith Cameron MacIsaac says she is discouraged by the process the city followed. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"Mayor Brown with a cool head I would urge you to go back and talk with the city councillors who felt it was important enough to vote yes but not important enough to be here tonight to defend that decision."

Three of the four councillors who voted against the amendment were in attendance: Jason Cody, Bob Doiron and Mitchell Tweel. Mayor Brown explained Julie McCabe, who also voted no, had another function. The six who were in favour did not attend the meeting, and the mayor did not know why.

Possibilities to go back 

The group of residents and business owners who have been leading the charge have filed an appeal with the Island Regulatory Appeals Commission.

At Wednesday's meeting they presented Mayor Brown with a request to reconsider the amendment, and said they have informed IRAC they would put their appeal on hold if council agreed to rescind and hold a new vote.

The mayor explained that would have to happen within 21 days of the original vote, which would make the deadline Friday. He could call a special meeting to do so, but it would need a motion to be moved and seconded by councillors. Coun. Jason Cody told CBC News he would move that motion, and he felt he would have no problem getting a seconder. 

Mayor Philip Brown explained he may need a legal opinion but will look at all the options. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

Mayor Brown also called upon provincial representatives in the crowd to step in. He proposed the group send a resolution asking for the province to place a moratorium on new large scale industrial projects in close proximity to residents. He encouraged the group to try and get an MLA to bring the resolution to the legislature floor. 

Not the province's problem

The two opposition leaders in attendance made it clear that this was a municipal issue. 

 "You have your own system, within your own municipality structure, that you can create a new bylaw that says setbacks can be thus and so, trucks can only be yellow and green... you can do that tomorrow." said interim Liberal leader Robert Mitchell. 

Green Leader Peter-Bevan Baker agreed.

"The province did not create this mess," he said 

"While that may indeed be one of the avenues by which something could be done, although I don't think it's quite as simple as you imagine Mayor, there are lots of opportunities within the rules of the municipal government for you to do something about this."

The mayor said he may have to seek a legal opinion on all of the options,  but that he will look into it and speak with council. 

He also said he will look into how the city advertises public meetings to see if the process can be made more transparent.

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About the Author

Natalia Goodwin

Video Journalist

Natalia is a video journalist in P.E.I. She has also worked for CBC N.L.

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