The first public meeting has been held for feedback on the City of Summerside’s bid to open an eco park.
The meeting held Wednesday was the first step where council and the public could hear about the plans for the park and discuss the project in an open setting.
The plans for the park will allow for about six industrial building to house light industrial businesses in the 14.5 acres of land off of Greenwood Drive.
The point of an eco park is to maximize services for the businesses while minimizing the environmental footprint, said Mike Thususka, the director of the city’s economic development department.
The meeting also allowed for staff to move an application for a zoning bylaw amendment through the municipal process.
While part of the proposed land is already allotted for industrial use, a portion of it was zoned as R4 high-density residential.
Thususka said the natural land like the area's wetlands will be used as ways to manage the park's infrastructure and act as a buffer between the park and the neighbouring residences.
Coun. Justin Doiron stressed that the name industrial park does not mean the area will be filled with smokestacks and connotations that come with the term.
Establishing a second industrial park, that in this case is close by the existing one, is part of the council’s initiative to “move the needle” between the tax split for residential and commercial properties.
Currently, the city has about an 82 per cent residential tax revenue to 18 per cent commercial tax revenue split.
“If we can initiate and develop it with the potential tenants we’re working with, it’s a really good quick start to work on getting that balance between residential and commercial revenues,” said Coun. Brian McFeely.
Jacqueline Cacciottolo, a Norman Drive resident, attended the meeting to address her concerns with the park.
“It doesn’t keep with the character of the community. There’s the elementary school, the soccer field and the trail.”
She said she didn't receive a notice about the eco park's proposed development because her home is outside of the 60-metre boundary around the location which requires the city to alert residents in that area of possible development.
She was drawn to the home, about a year ago, because there were few options at the time.
"But the price was also right and I really loved the neighbourhood. It's also close by to the Credit Union Place, the school, trail, and we have a view straight down to the water."
Initially, she wasn't opposed to the development.
"I know it sounds selfish, but when I heard it would take away my view I tried looking for any ordinance or bylaw that could prevent it."
When that search didn't prove fruitful, Cacciottolo started chatting with her neighbours about the development.
"Many of them didn't know about the plans," she said.
Cacciottolo started a Facebook group, Stop the Greenwood Industrial Park, in hopes of gaining more support in opposing the project. There are 23 people in the group.
"Some are from the [Norman Drive] area, some are concerned parents... Some are concerned about why the city would want to change a residential property to industrial when there is a housing shortage. Some have gone so far as to call it a crisis," she said to councillors.
Following the meeting, Coun. McFeely said he respected the position of the concerned residents and their feelings and opinions "would certainly be part of the deliberations of his decision."
A planning board meeting will be held on Friday, June 14 at 12 p.m. for further discussion and feedback from city staff on the project. The topic is also slated for the June 17 regular monthly council meeting on June 17 beginning at 5 p.m. Both meetings are open to the public.