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Let’s call it the no-fun dock.
That is ultimately what Charlottetown city council has decided to do with its $51,000 floating dock at Victoria Park – turn it into a floating prop that can’t actually be used as a dock.
Of course, that wasn’t the original plan. At first, the dock was going to be used to launch non-motorized watercraft, like kayaks and canoes.
You know, it was going to be a dock.
But then some residents got together and complained.
The floating dock was going to block their beautiful view of the water, or at least block their view that is the length and width of the dock.
There was also going to be traffic jams and parking problems as droves of residents and tourists rushed to Victoria Park carrying their kayaks and canoes across the road to the dock.
So, what is the city going to do now – hire bylaw officers on Sea-Doos (our version of C.H.I.P.S.) that hand out tickets for anyone using the dock as a dock?
Regardless, it’s an unfortunate compromise and a missed opportunity.
The park is supposed to be for everyone.
As new residents come to the city, we need to start embracing change to reflect their interests, whether it is a floating dock to encourage people to take up new water activities or new bicycle lanes.
Victoria Park is a public park for all residents to enjoy. It needs to grow and reflect diverse interests in the same way as our city grows.
But in this case, the squeaky wheels got the grease.
More than anything, this reflects badly on council. To be fair, four councillors voted against the compromise.
Even so, this matter makes council look like the new kid in school. The new kid wants to be liked by everyone and make everyone happy.
Well, not everyone is going to like council’s decisions and council can’t make everyone happy.
Residents will let council know in the next election whether they’re happy or not.
Of course, we want residents to be engaged in municipal government and hold it accountable.
One complaint was the lack of public consultation since the floating dock was purchased.
But let’s be clear – this dock isn’t infringing on anyone’s personal property and is it a scandalous misuse of taxpayers’ money.
It’s just a floating dock in a public place.
Council should have stuck with the original plan to let the dock be a dock for the summer rather than the other way around.
And, if that didn’t work out, then scale it back.
We won’t know if the concerns over traffic and parking would have materialized because the dock isn’t going to be used as a dock.
We won’t know because we didn’t seize an opportunity and try something new.
All we’ll know at the end of the summer is whether people liked walking on it.