Summerside adopts vision of urban core plan

Summerside city council voted Monday to adopt a long-term development plan for the downtown, but a controversial part of that plan remains in question.

3-storey minimum, 10-storey max still a possibility

Summerside's urban core plan may include a 3-storey minimum for new buildings to encourage high-density growth. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Summerside city council voted Monday to adopt a consultant's report that sets out long-term development plans for the P.E.I. city's downtown.

But a controversial part of that plan — to set a three-storey minimum and 10-storey maximum for buildings — is still in question.

 "We've adopted in principle," said Summerside Mayor Bill Martin.

"It's now going to be our senior technical folks ... who will now develop the form-based code that will govern future development."

That form-based code, as outlined in a consultant's report, could contain minimum and maximum heights on downtown buildings.

'This was the last piece of the puzzle so it feels good to be able to say officially that we're at the end of a long road,' said Summerside Mayor Bill Martin. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Martin said he's in favour of the three-storey minimum and 10-storey maximum as set out in the urban core plan, with some reservations.

"Depending on where the buildings are built, I'm entirely supportive of it," said Martin.

"I'm not sold that we should have a minimum of three-storey buildings right on the water, however, I'll wait for city planners and I'll wait for our experts to provide us with some guidance."

We need people moving downtown- Bill Martin, Mayor of Summerside

Martin told CBC News a minimum building height would help the city's downtown grow.

"I would be in favour of that because without density in the downtown, you don't have the population necessary to support a downtown," said Martin.

"We need people moving downtown."

Critics of the urban core plan say minimum heights would discourage growth by making construction projects too expensive for small developers. Others argue the public was not adequately consulted.

'We caution council to take the necessary time and do the appropriate research,' said Peter Holman, president, Summerside and Area Historical Society. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The Summerside and Area Historical Society held a public meeting earlier this month. Society president Peter Holman spoke at Monday's city council meeting before the vote. He said some residents remain concerned.

"There remained a worry that the city will proceed possibly without any further public consultation to accept the plan as it stands," Holman told council.

"We caution council to take the necessary time and do the appropriate research as this is one of the most important recommendations that could have serious ramifications if not properly implemented."

Deputy mayor Norma McColeman told council the consultant's report took four years to complete and included extensive public consultation.