Charlottetown city council is putting the cart before the horse with rezone plan, says East Royalty woman

By Melissa Heald
Feb. 3, 2014

An East Royalty woman fears Charlottetown city council is putting the cart before the horse when it comes to the proposed plan to rezone portions of Angus Drive and St. Peters Road from residential to commercial space to allow for an expansion of Mel’s Petro-Canada.
Yvonne Cummiskey and other East Royalty residents voiced their concerns over the proposed rezoning to Charlottetown city council at a public meeting at the Charlottetown Rodd on Jan. 29.
Mel’s is asking council to rezone of their commercial property 35 feet to the west. The rezoning will allow for an 1800 feet expansion of the business in an effort to regain lost retail space do to the addition of the liquor store. It will also add six new parking spaces, an extra pump and move accessible parking closer to the door.
A resident of Angus Drive, Cummiskey said the city should wait until a decision has been made about the future of St. Peters Road in the East Royalty area before granting Mel’s permission to expand.
Cummiskey said she wants to know what is going to happen with the road because of the increase traffic issue, not just with St. Peters Road, but also with vehicles coming in and out of Mel’s. She told the council they need to look at the bigger picture.
“What is the city going to do, what is the province going to do, and how is that going to effect everything if you do this? I just think you are putting the cart before the horse.”
A traffic study commissioned by the city and province to look at the traffic flow on St. Peters Road on potential growth in the East Royalty area indicated volume could double by 2026 if growth was to continue, like the new subdivision being built in the area. The study suggested making St. Peters Road four lanes wide, with two lanes going in each direction, and control traffic by either traffic lights or roundabouts.
Cummiskey said she understands Mel’s wants to expand but wants to know what the province and the city is going to do with the existing road. She said she believes that decision needs to be made before the decision about Mel’s.
Mayor Clifford Lee said from his understanding the study indicated the way St. Peters Road operates now is sufficient and will be sufficient for years to come unless there is major development done in the East Royalty area.
“If that is the case, we are probably not going to see roundabouts or traffic lights installed in the general area for a quite few years to come.”
Lee said he agrees the rezoning request can’t go any further unless the traffic coming in and out of Mel’s is somehow dealt with because it makes no sense to allow an expansion with what is out there now to continue if it makes control of traffic worse.
“Why can’t we just create an entrance and exit point for Mel’s and that’s the end of it.”
Jeff Doucette, the manager of Mel’s, said the store has seen an increase volume of traffic since being allowed to sell alcohol and would be hiring a traffic engineer to look at the flow of traffic coming in and out of the business and to examine the inner workings of the parking lot.
Coun. Rob Lantz, the councillor responsible for the Planning and Heritage board, promised no final decision would be made on the rezoning until the board received the results of that traffic study.
After the meeting, Cummiskey said she is not just concerned about the proposed changes to Mel’s but also what plans might be in the future for that section of St. Peters Road.
“This is one change proposed to be happening and why are we making this decision and allowing that to happen when we haven’t looked at the proposal in for St. Peters Road.”
Cummiskey said a roundabout will allow for better access to Mel’s but she doesn’t want there to be two or three year wait on a solution for the traffic in the area while the planned expansion for the store goes ahead.
“Let’s all work together and make a good decision and get it all done at once.”
Doucette said the store is not adding anything different to what they already have but wants to stretch out the property and allow customers to get in and out more comfortably and add more storage space.
“We understand the residents are concerned and we are trying to address that the best we can and keep in mind safety and everything else so we can come up with a good compromise.”