Cycling for all!

Cycling not just for fun but as a way of life in everyday activities. Yes we can do it in Ward 1 and in Charlottetown.

 

Laurent Beaulieu for City Council in Ward 1 Queen Square, 

What can I do for you!

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Campaign photos

For some weeks now I have been canvassing all over my Ward (Ward 1 Queen Square) in Charlottetown. It is a good exercise and I meet a lot of people. All residents I encountered so far love to talk and interact and it has been a good exchange.

For the Summer Season I hired a photographer to follow me around and take candid shots with my neighbours on the street I can use the photos on the campaign trail to document what is happening.

Here are some, I have dozen more to sort through. I also have another project on the go and hope to have it up and running by next week. I like the fact that my campaign folder appears in the photos below.

The key though is face to face meeting with the constituents in the Ward. I also make a point of writing down what people tell me about their concerns, it is a small gesture but my constituents like it a lot.

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The Official Map of Ward 1 Queen Square issued by Elections PEI, notice the change on the Eastern portion where streets east of Weymouth are now part of Ward 1.

 

# Poverty reduction, affordable housing

Poverty reduction and affordable housing are topics that are linked and constantly in the news in Charlottetown.

Both the Provincial and the Municipal Governments are involved in these issues at various degrees. However policies are slow in coming while those most in need wait and have been waiting a long time for solutions. The City of Charlottetown is still grappling with a policy on affordable housing and this sudden focus came after the housing crisis became untenable with some Media attention on the issue.

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Given the influx of moneyed immigrants (new comers) the situation has been exacerbated, rentals that use to be affordable 3 years ago are rare, the price of homes has also shot up far faster than anywhere else in far larger cities in the Maritimes, according to Statistic Canada.

Ward 1 has a serious poverty problem and it is most visible South of Euston Street, the oldest part of the city, with numerous substandard, poorly maintained decrepit housing, they do stand out around the downtown core, the city so far says it is powerless to act and has shown no leadership in tackling this problem. Turning a blind eye to such situations has an impact on all of us, the victims are mostly poor elderly tenants, many are women, handicap children, the young, people too vulnerable or afraid to speak up.

The second problem has to do with the Toronto level rents being asked for rental units not only in the downtown core South of Euston Street but everywhere in town. Effectively pushing out the young and anyone who has an annual salary of less than $ 40,000 dollars. People are forced to spend more than a third of their income on housing. Many have no choice but to leave the core and go to other towns or the far suburbs or worse live in accommodations that are rodent infested and fire traps.

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This in turn creates other problems in terms of employer unable to find staff to work in their business because of a lack of affordable housing for employees nearby, in many cases a car is required and we know that Charlottetown has a general acute shortage of parking spaces made worse in the Summer months with the influx of tourists.

Affordable housing in Charlottetown and PEI should not be an unattainable dream. One has to ask how did we in Charlottetown come to such a predicament where the vacancy rate is so low and what is available is often sub-standard and unaffordable that we now have a serious crisis on our hands which can have serious impact on our economy.

It is true that housing is not a municipal jurisdiction, however City Council can show leadership, vision and take measures to stimulate the market and new constructions. Currently the laisser faire attitude of City Council which has prevailed for the last few years has not helped at all. The city is too slow in approving new constructions and the process is lenghty.

The new phenomenon of Air B&B has also not helped the current housing crunch in Ward 1, dozens of homes and rental apartments all over Ward 1 have been converted to Air B&B for tourists effectively taking out of the rental market available apartments for residents, pushing people out.

The City does not ask Air B&B owners/operators to pay taxes like hotels and motels and looses in the process an important revenue. Other cities in Canada have effective policies on this phenomenon, we don’t. Revenue collected from Air B&B could be re-invested into promoting new affordable housing development.

Both the Provincial and Municipal government must come together to work out how best to address this question putting the interests of the residents first.

My proposal is to develop quickly clear policies on housing, to allow for more affordable housing construction in Ward 1 and all over the city, streamline all applications for new constructions and process construction permits so that developers can proceed with their projects on a timely fashion. Reputable Developers who have an established track record should be able to get their projects approved in an expedited fashion. We do not need to reinvent the wheel but look into existing policies and approaches of other Canadian cities experiencing rapid growth.

Unless we accept the challenge we face and show innovation in solving this housing crunch, the problem will only continue to grow and impede our economic development.

Laurent Beaulieu

Candidate for City Councillor, Ward 1 Queen Square, Charlottetown

 This election is about YOU! What can I do for you?

 

 

The crescent moon

The Holy Month of Ramadan starts this week when the crescent moon is sighted probably on Wednesday or Thursday.

During the holy month, Muslims do not let food or drink pass their lips from dawn to dusk. Muslims believe Prophet Mohammed received a series of revelations from God which combined to form the Koran – and that the Koran was revealed during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan.

After learning the Koran was to be revealed to him by the Archangel Gabriel during the month, the Islamic prophet Muhammad told his followers that the gates to heaven would stay open for the month, while the gates of hell would be closed.  Many Muslims will try and recite as much of the Koran as they can during the month.

As the holiest month of the year, it is a crucial period for practising Muslims and underpins some of the religion’s core values, such as prayer and giving to charity.

As PEI is becoming a more modern, diverse and inclusive society, we must think of all people who live here on this Island Province as forming one harmonious society. There are 1.8 billion Muslims in the World and in PEI Muslims form a new and well integrated segment of our society enriching our lives.

To all my Muslim Friends in Ward 1, in Charlottetown and PEI please accept my best wishes for a Ramadan Kareem and Mubarak.

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Bicycling in Charlottetown

If you are looking for bicycling as a leisure activity or sport in PEI there are trails and lots of options to make it enjoyable, if you are looking to bicycle in the Capital or any town in PEI to go to work or for shopping from A to B, it’s a very different matter and can be dangerous.

In PEI and in Charlottetown the motor vehicle is still King of the road and drivers can be aggressive and show little patience with bicyclists. Many bicyclist enthusiasts and their supporters have taken up the question of asking the Municipality to show progressive forward thinking and provide options for bicyclists in the Charlottetown. It has been a long and arduous process, lack of awareness on the part of politicians and lack of funds for infrastructure to facilitate bicycling have created a situation where much work remains to be done. Compared to other cities in Canada, Charlottetown is very backwards.

However all is not lost, we have a Municipal Election coming on November 5, 2018 and there is an appetite for change. The City some weeks ago said they hired an engineering consulting firm to do a study into the possibility of improving all cycling infrastructure network across the city. One area, though it is not strictly speaking a Municipal responsibility, is the Hillsborough bridge which is dangerous for both pedestrians and cyclists, that needs looking into by governments and planning authorities. As it stands now you are taking your life into your hands when you bicycle on any streets in Charlottetown.

Simple quick solutions would be to paint intersections clearly marking areas for bicyclists with Phosphorescent paint commonly called “glow-in-the-darkpaint, made from phosphors such as silver-activated zinc sulfide or doped strontium aluminate, and typically glows a pale green to greenish-blue colour.

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The same technique could be applied to lines painted on the road, leaving a sufficient corridor for bikes to ride on. Flexible Bollards known as flexible delineator post could be installed at intervals to clearly mark bicycle reserve portion of the road.

At intersections where traffic lights direct motorists, it is possible to install a priority green light for bicycles giving bicyclists a chance to cross the intersections before cars proceed. Also more bicycle stands should be available to park your bike everywhere in the city.

Many Canadian cities have adopted a bike friendly attitude, going so far as having corridors only for bikes, separated from sidewalks and the street itself. Safety is important, understanding that a 2 ton car can kill easily a bicyclists. There is a need in Charlottetown and PEI as a whole to educate drivers in general on sharing the road and in being more courteous.

I would like to see our Municipality endorse policies which will help bicyclists and promote measures to ensure more access and road sharing within the City.

This Municipal Election is about you! What can I do for you?  

Elect,  Laurent Beaulieu, Councillor Ward 1 Queen Square, Charlottetown.

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Please note in this photo the signal light on the right side of the photo shows a green bicycle giving priority to bicyclist to cross the intersection before cars, something you see in Montreal. 

#Housing Part 2

One of the many crucial issues of living in PEI is housing and in Charlottetown finding suitable and affordable housing in updated or modern buildings is difficult if not impossible.  I raised some of these housing issues in a previous blog post of 12 March 2018. As candidate to the post of City Councillor in Ward 1, this is one of the many issues I am working on.

This morning Zac Murphy, Alex Youland and Lydia Peters presented their report on the housing situation at Charlottetown City Hall with the Mayor, Councillors, the Media and several politicians, including Municipal Electoral Candidates Al Douglas and myself and the general public present in the room.

The City of Charlottetown’s Youth Retention Advisory Board – Charlottetown – Youth Matters – conducted earlier this year a survey focusing on the specific needs and challenges young people in Charlottetown face on the matter of housing.

Responses from the survey demonstrate a need for more affordable housing for youth within the Greater Charlottetown Area. The corresponding report sheds light on the challenges youth are facing in relation to housing, cost of living, household income and accessibility. More than 50 percent of the survey respondents said they are spending more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing.

The issue of housing cannot be underestimated and it also speaks to the need to increase density in the downtown core so that more businesses like a grocery store can be located here. It also speaks to the issue of people living close to work and being able to forego the use of a car. Living downtown should not be a luxury for young and old. It all comes down to quality of life for all. I am a renter, I made that choice years ago, but I also want to live in the City core and this is a challenge, so I fully understand young people and applaud the proposed solutions.

The survey ran from January 16 to February 16, 2018 and received more than 850 responses. The Youth Retention Advisory Board considers youth anyone who falls between the ages of 16 and 35. The Board’s goal through the survey was to collect meaningful data from the city’s youth that can be used to help shape policy and direction as the City of Charlottetown works with its partners and other levels of government to address housing concerns.

It is a very enlightening report, well done, a blueprint for the future of this city.  The retiring Mayor spoke on the report and thanked the Board for their great work on this important issue.

The report will be forwarded to city council for review and a resolution is to be tabled to officially accept the report on May 14. In the meantime you can read the report online, click on the link   https://bit.ly/2qJbdcn

 

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From left to right, Zac Murphy, Alex Youland, Lydia Peters