Visitor’s View – Don’t Copy Toronto

The Guardian

March 19, 2007

Island shouldn’t copy Toronto’s sprawl

Editor: I have the privilege of being a regular visitor to Prince Edward Island and am always grateful for the hospitality and warmth I find during my visits. While my visits have taken me all over the Island, I have spent most of my time in Charlottetown and am very fond of both the city and the surrounding countryside.Like any city, Charlottetown has changed over the past few years and it is always fascinating as a visitor to see what has developed since my last visit. Stores open and close, a new public transit system appears and the city seems to extend outwards every year. All communities need to change and cities must be built for the residents rather than people like me who simply visit and who likely shouldn’t presume to comment on what the people of PEI decide to do.

Having said this, I am saddened to see changes like the demise of the Co-op store on Queen Street and the spread of development outside of the older part of Charlottetown. It almost seems like the stores on Queen Street and in the downtown core, are geared towards tourists — sad for the residents and perhaps unsustainable in the long term. I realize that there has been some in-fill development in the older part of Charlottetown. Hopefully this trend will continue since higher-density housing is likely the best way to ensure a populated central core of the city, relatively inexpensive delivery of services and a renaissance of shops in the downtown actually geared towards the residents. Perhaps there could be a grocery store so that senior citizens living in the city centre aren’t forced to drive, taxi or take transit to the store.

It is my understanding that there is currently a debate in Charlottetown about the fate of the Upton Farm lands. The choice appears to be to make Upton Farm, owned by the Canada Lands Corporation, a designated green space or to develop the lands for mixed-use housing. This is obviously a question that will need to be decided by the people of Charlottetown, but I hope that whatever decision you make, that you will not replicate the mistakes made by cities such as Toronto which allowed for ugly urban sprawl that has resulted in high economic costs and a transit mess that will take us decades to fix.

Margo Fairburn,

Toronto, Ont.