Top News

EDITORIAL: Summerside development plan. Let's get moving

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

The wheels of progress are turning again in Summerside – albeit slowly. On Monday city councillors voted to move forward with a proposed development plan for the city’s ‘urban core.’

Council approved two motions at its monthly meeting. Both revolve around the Summerside Urban Core Plan that was created for the city by Halifax-based Ekistics Planning & Design.

Council approved two motions at its monthly meeting. Both revolve around the Summerside Urban Core Plan that was created for the city by Halifax-based Ekistics Planning & Design.

The document outlines a number of recommendations that, according to its creators, are designed to help revitalize the downtown core in the coming years.

Council first passed a motion to move forward with the plan, but then followed it up with a second one directing city staff to research how to best proceed with implementing “form-based code” in the downtown.

The intent of form-based code, apparently, is to cut red tape for potential investors by giving them as much information regarding what the community expects of them and their projects early in the process. Seems like a good idea.

One aspect of that “upfront” information involves building height maximums and minimums – which had been a sticking point for council and some members of the public as this process has unfolded.

The Ekistics plan for Summerside recommends a three-storey minimum on new developments in the downtown in order to encourage higher density and more valuable development.

In an interview with the Journal Pioneer after the meeting, Summerside Mayor Bill Martin stressed that the wording of the first motion says the city “adopts the ‘vision’ of the Summerside Urban Core Plan.”

That word, “vision” is important, Martin said, because it indicates that while the city intends to consult the plan, it will not be bound by it. Council, apparently, can still decide on a case-by-case basis whether to follow the wording of the document or not. (Eek!)

We commend the city for its willingness to proceed with this plan – especially in the face of some citizen opposition. But do it or don’t do it. Don’t just adopt the vision. Adopt a plan. If you are looking for the perfect scenario, stop, you won’t find it. Instead, find the best scenario. If you believe this is it, proceed. If you don’t think this is it, find another.

Avoid half-measures, which is how we interpret having council “not being bound by the plan.”

Agree or don’t agree with the height restrictions, but don’t be willy-nilly about it.

This isn’t an “all good” or “all bad” situation and there will be detractors and mistakes regardless of what you do – at least in the eyes of some. But it is “all-important” and not being bound to a plan will certainly result in a hodge-podge of development, which could (and likely will because no one can predict how any future councils will interpret a plan they are not bound to) turn into both esthetic and bureaucratic messes.

Kind of like what we have today.

Recent Stories