Opinion: Public meeting long overdue | Opinion | ABnews24

Sun, April 5, 2020
Opinion: Public meeting long overdue
Tom Connor: I think your editorial of Sept. 12 tried to be constructive and conciliatory. However, some broader considerations and more facts might have helped you to be more fair.
Firstly, Charlottetown City Council or the parks committee knew that this would be a controversial issue, and so should have had a public meeting, even if this was not specifically required. It's now apparent that without that meeting, not all factors and viewpoints were considered.
Secondly, the reasons for building this dock have shifted over time in response to certain objections. We went from small motor craft and swimming, to kayaks and canoes and dipping our feet in the water, to getting a better view of Fort Amherst. What is its reason?
In searching for that reason, you suggest that kayakers are asking for this access to the water. I have been a kayaker for 20 years or more, and am aware that kayakers would rather launch from a beach or a slip.
There are several such on the Charlottetown waterfront, from the Yacht Club slip to slips at the York Lane lighthouse and Kirkwood Drive to beaches at the Queen Elizabeth North Park and a slip at the North River Causeway.
Some might say these are far apart over a long distance. But the kayakers are not kids on bikes, towing the boat behind, but grown people who must have a car to "tote the boat." Thus, any of these sites is equally accessible with Victoria Park. Furthermore, each site has better parking than the proposed site. Any or all of these sites could be improved using the same money.
Your editorial also suggests that kayakers would be put off by all the traffic in the Port of Charlottetown. But placing a jetty into that traffic is hardly a solution. Also, these competing uses would not trouble each other: Many kayakers now launch from up the North River and paddle down to see and participate in the port activity. It appears you are searching for a raison d'etre for this dock just as its original proponents were.
Your editorial implies (vaguely) that older opinions should give way to younger desires. But those older opinions are consistent with the intent of establishing and protecting Victoria Park in the first place. The people who did this rightly foresaw the loss of green space, and the need to preserve it so people could have continued contact with nature, and quiet reflection. As those young people become older they too will realize the wisdom of this. Every piece of infrastructure detracts from those aims.
Finally, your editorial also mentions the need for council to consult with the port authority for permission to do this project. You could have been more constructive if you had also suggested that council have a public meeting so that "middle aged or older residents (how did you know/) who think the Park is over developed now," could meet with "younger people (how did you know?) who want the dock as a leisure or recreational option."
- Tom Connor, Charlottetown, is a retired civil servant and an “old kayaker’
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