By­law needed

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

Awarn­ing shot was fired over the bow of both Mar­itime Elec­tric and the City of Char­lot­te­town. It was a wake-up call to en­sure that ad­vances in rid­ding city streets of un­sightly over­head wiring and util­ity poles must ad­vance, not regress.

The alarm came from P.E.I. busi­ness­man Ray Brow who won­dered aloud if 2017 is the year that Wa­ter Street’s util­ity wires will be fi­nally all run un­der­ground. The cause of his con­cern was the re­cent in­stal­la­tion of a pole and wires strung across Wa­ter Street.

Ma­jor progress was made get­ting rid of most of the wires and poles along Wa­ter Street, one of the main ac­cess points into the down­town. Their re­moval greatly im­proved the im­age of the his­toric cap­i­tal.

The ad­vances came be­cause of good plan­ning and de­ci­sion-mak­ing. Those seem ab­sent to­day. They also came be­cause in­fra­struc­ture dol­lars were spent to beau­tify the down­town. Money is the ma­jor rea­son why so much ugly wiring still re­mains in full view to­day.

Any­one stand­ing on a Prince Street cor­ner, south of Eus­ton, and looks up­ward, are amazed that power poles are still able to re­main up­right un­der the heavy load of bristling wires, ca­bles, trans­form­ers and fix­tures. Sup­port­ing guy wires are ev­ery­where.

Many city streets are like Prince, clut­tered with wiring. Res­i­dents might be largely obliv­i­ous to this ur­ban blight but what do visi­tors and tourists think of our her­itage city?

Just imag­ine what city streets would look like if this blight of was gone? Their re­moval would vis­ually trans­form the city, al­low for more down­town park­ing and of course, money-gen­er­at­ing park­ing me­tres.

The new over­head wiring and pole were al­lowed be­cause there is no by­law reg­u­lat­ing them. There cer­tainly should be. The city can’t just stand idly by and al­low un­ac­cept­able so­lu­tions to pro­ceed.

It’s an is­sue which de­mands the im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion by the city, Mar­itime Elec­tric, down­town busi­nesses, home­own­ers and the Is­land Reg­u­la­tory and Ap­peals Com­mis­sion.

Any new wiring should be un­der­ground and the util­ity should have a busi­ness plan to bury ad­di­tional wires each year. While the costs are greater, it would limit the im­pact of weather on poles and wires, and limit out­ages and costly re­pairs.

The new over­head wires go against decades of beau­ti­fi­ca­tion work along wa­ter­front streets. The city in­vested heav­ily in beau­ti­fy­ing the down­town in other ways, such as board­walks, street lanterns and land­scap­ing. Yet, when a busi­ness wants to up­grade its elec­tri­cal ser­vice, the cheap­est, eas­i­est and most un­ap­peal­ing method is used.

The util­ity says it is re­spect­ful of the her­itage projects done in terms of ur­ban beau­ti­fi­ca­tion. But it still had no prob­lem help­ing to ruin that her­itage work. There must be a plan to en­hance beau­ti­fi­ca­tion ef­forts, not make things worse.

Mayor Clif­ford Lee has long been sym­pa­thetic to the beau­ti­fi­ca­tion cause. He has a com­mit­ment from Mar­itime Elec­tric to dis­cuss a plan go­ing for­ward in terms of sup­port­ing beau­ti­fi­ca­tion in­vest­ments in the wa­ter­front area.

Such a plan is long over­due. A her­itage city de­serves bet­ter. The Birth­place of Con­fed­er­a­tion can cer­tainly do bet­ter.

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