Charlottetown’s parks and recreation committee chairman feels shut out by the province over the future of the former P.E.I. Hospital property.
Coun. Mitchell Tweel brought the issue up again at the regular February monthly public meeting on Monday, saying it’s time to send a message to the provincial government that it has to work closely with the city on this file.
Tweel referred to the expanded parking lot behind the Aubin-Arsenault Building, adjacent to the old hospital property, saying that when the province expanded the parking lot it sent the wrong message which hasn’t been sitting well with the public.
“What’s happening there, for all intents and purposes, is a make-shift depot of half-tonne trucks,’’ Tweel told the media following the council meeting. “That is a contradiction of the resolution that we passed. I’ve been receiving phone calls from residents referring to (the parking spots).’’
Transportation Minister Steven Myers has told The Guardian on more than one occasion that those parking spots already existed when the hospital was standing and that there is no intention of expanding the lot any further.
Myers has also said that the province’s intent is to see the now vacant property revert to green space. The province is currently meeting with community groups interested in developing it as green space with things like gardens and trails but has yet to formally announce a plan publicly.
Once the site is prepared, likely by the province, it would be handed over to the city’s parks and recreation department for caretaking, as is the case with Victoria Park.
Tweel said if that’s the case, he should be at the table.
“I think we need to be at the ground floor when it comes to planning – when it comes to the vision of that property – doing extensive collaboration and consultation.’’
However, the city is involved in consultations.
Coun. Alanna Jankov’s strategic priorities and intergovernmental co-operation committee, has been at the table with Myers and his department. Under the city’s terms of reference, it’s her committee that handles discussions with the other two levels of government, especially in a case like this where the property in question doesn’t belong to the city.
Tweel again argued that he should be at the table and that council should be vetting any information that comes out of the meetings between Jankov’s committee and the minister.
Jankov is out of the province, so Coun. Terry Bernard, vice-chairman of the intergovernment co-operation committee, handled media questions.
“It’s provincial government property,’’ Bernard said, adding that he has also attended meetings with the minister.
“In our conversations with them (the minister said) they don’t plan on adding any more parking. As a matter of fact, they are going to reduce parking. They’re (also) of the opinion that they would like to see it (revert to) green space, too.’’
Bernard said Myers promised to keep them apprised of what the final plan is and anything that might change with that plan.
“We will have input,’’ Bernard said.
Social Media Q&A
During The Guardian’s live tweeting of Monday’s council meeting, a number of people on Twitter asked whether the city was interested in using the old P.E.I. Hospital property as space for affordable housing or at least having a public meeting over the issue. Here's what Coun. Terry Bernard’s had to say when questioned by The Guardian after the meeting:
- On using vacant land for social housing:
“That would be a question for Minister (Steven) Myers to answer. It’s provincial government property,’’ said the vice-chairman of the strategic priorities and intergovernmental co-operation committee.
“What they do with (the property) is up to them.’’
- On hosting a public meeting about whether it should be used for social housing or revert to green space.
“I can only assume that is a question for the minister and I can only assume that whatever they decide to do they’ll hold public meetings.’’
Transportation Minister Steven Myers has said he is open to holding a public meeting over the issue.