Smart Communities that Aren’t

The following notice appeared on the City of Charlottetown’s website this morning:

City Council will hold a Public Meeting to hear comments on the following:
Property Adjacent to 4 Prince Street (portion of PID# 841536)
An amendment to Appendix “G” of the City of Charlottetown Zoning and Development Bylaw – List of Approved Properties in the Comprehensive
Development Area Zone and Their Permitted Uses, as well as an amendment to the Waterfront Concept Plan to allow commercial, office and residential units for the vacant lot adjacent to 4 Prince Street (PID# 841536).

This is an area I know well – I walk by on the way from my house to the Charlottetown waterfront – and have some interest in. I’m part of the public that should be involved in a public meeting like this.

But reading this notice I’m left with a lot of questions:

  • Where exactly is this property? What “portion” of PID #841536 is the meeting about? A map or even a sketch of what’s being talked about would be useful here.
  • What’s “Appendix G” of the Zoning and Development Bylaw? Yes, I know I can download the bylaw and figure that out, but the web, if anything, is about making connections between documents. The bylaw should be in HTML, not PDF, and there should be a link from this meeting notice directly to Appendix G.
  • What is the “Comprehensive Development Area Zone?” I have no idea.
  • What is the “Waterfront Concept Plan?” Also, no idea.
  • What is actually being proposed that requires a change “to allow commercial, office and residential units?” Does someone want to build a Tim Hortons or an apartment building or a single-family house?

Apologies for my flippant indignation, but surely, after the buckets of money that has been poured into inane “smart communities” projects in the city over the years, the least we citizens can expect is a clear, well-organized public notice about a public meeting with links to relevant resources; proper execution of our role as citizens would seem to require no less.


oliver's picture
oliver on October 7, 2011 - 17:32


ritchie Simpson's picture
ritchie Simpson on October 7, 2011 - 17:51


I’m presuming your indignation is just the slightest bit false, I’m reasonably sure you are aware of what a Comprehensive Development Area is and I’m pretty certain I’ve seen you at a couple of the many Public Meetings about the Waterfront Concept Plan. But your points are good yes The city and government in general can and should do a better job of informing people of the full nature of the question for debate at such consultations.
I wonder though about your reference to “…inane”smart communities” projects…”; are you for them or against them? What are these projects and which aspect makes them “inane”? Should they be proposed by those responsible to pay for them or by those affected? How many does it take to make a project “nane”?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on October 7, 2011 - 18:11

Yes, indignation is just the slightest bit false, and I&#160can figure this stuff out on my own, in theory. So my indignation was more “societal” than “personal.”

Most of the evidence of “inane smart communities projects” has atrophied off the Internet by now, but there is still some trace left in the blogosphere. From 2001, for example:

Virtual Charlottetown will receive over $4.5 million in matching funds from Industry Canada over three years. The Smart Communities program is part of the Government of Canada’s Connecting Canadians initiative, which aims to make Canada the most connected nation in the world.

These services include the Community Exploration Forum which will enhance existing Geographic Information system (GIS) services, providing residents with accurate maps to locate services, sites of interest, businesses and home layouts for fire safety. It will also offer users virtual tours of heritage areas and galleries. The Learning Centre, the Marketplace and the Community Builder’s Forum comprise the other smart services.

Most of that $4.5 was spent on projects that were short-lived and/or never actually worked in the first place. Those projects that did see the light of day were often based on technologies, like Cold Fusion, that even then were on their way out and soon-to-be-orphaned.&#160 You’d be hard-pressed to find any digital trace of that money on still-operating, relevant Internet projects.

This is inane and unfortunate on several levels, but mostly for the unrealized projects that could have taken place if that money was more wisely spent on sustainable, community-based open projects.

Jevon's picture
Jevon on October 8, 2011 - 20:26

Virtual Charlottetown! I think the emotion I just felt upon reading that was nostalgia rather than the indignation I remember feeling at its mere mention. People change I guess.

Rob Lantz's picture
Rob Lantz on October 14, 2011 - 18:36

I agree. We will strive to do better on the notices, seriously.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on October 14, 2011 - 18:56

I am happy to participate in focus group, to provide mock-ups, or to otherwise encourage this as required.

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