Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kays to the "Welsh-Owen Hotel"....

We've been quietly working on this project for a number of months trying to "get all our ducks lined up" which might be a good expression to explain this project as it's been my experience with Downtown projects that there will always be some critics who love to take "shots" at anything new, but we're hoping that's not the case here... the media chased us down over the last few days so we decided to discuss it publicly knowing that a couple of big pieces of the puzzle still aren’t done and that’s a deal with CADC and a commitment from the Province that there will be a new Convention Centre built on the Transport Canada lands.
Here's a look at what we hope will be the finished product subject to a deal with CADC and securing the proper permits... in planning the project we've tried to reach a balance between "scale" for the neighbourhood and economics for ourselves as they probably both have to work in order for this or any project to get off the ground... the project involves purchasing the former Seaman property, the vacant lot on the corner and the Kays property and our new scheme involves leaving the Seaman building as it is with the Cinema and other tenants "intact" and trying to utilize as much of the backyard space as a courtyard and pedestrian area as possible... we investigated utilizing the interior of the Kays property for the hotel but structural grids, fire code and life safety issues related to the transformation into hotel suites or offices make absolutely no economic sense.
So we're now engaging a local architectural and engineering firm to determine the best options to insure that the street exterior elevations will be retained in their original heritage condition as a “must” for the finished product... we believe we have to be quite conscientious from a historical prospective with the balance of the streetscape designs for both Queen and Water Streets so the project "fits in" with the surroundings... the return elevation on King Street will be the existing Kays structure joined by an elevated building which allows the parking lot behind Kays to be retained as a valet and courtyard, but adds to the buildings height along King in order to get back some of the economics on the project. The land assembly is a significant dollar figure and add on about $1,000,000 in extra costs to "preserve" the Kays elevations, coupled with the cost of putting a 63 unit parking garage underground and the scale of the project is “driven up” in order to get back a reasonable economic return.
Initially we had just envisioned a 120 room hotel which is a pretty standard size for a branded hotel like the new Courtyard by Marriott in Downtown Halifax which by the way is owned by Jim Lawley, my fellow Board member at Killam Properties... although some may think we should only go only four floors high it just doesn't make any economic sense so we added another floor with 14 additional "furnished apartments" like we're doing with Killam Properties in other Atlantic cities but in doing so we stepped the elevation treatment back about 12 feet from the street so it won't be as visible... we also added 6 condos on a very small 6th floor footprint which is also stepped further back from the street.
On the ground floor we've added some commercial space as "hotel rooms" on the ground elevations are just not accepted by hotel guests in a Downtown setting, but the good news is that the Confederation Bridge group and a financial business have taken us up on our offer which helps in making the project a reality... the hotel will have all the standard amenities like a pool, conference room, 4 meeting rooms, guest lounge, common areas and a full breakfast cafe, but no restaurant as our City is full of great places nearby.
How real is the project will be one of the main questions people may have and my response will be that we’ll work hard with the neighbours, the City and the Province to achieve a quality project with a “reasonable” return for our partners and APM... the plans are available at our office for anyone to review them and we're willing to listen to any practical suggestions or ideas concerning this project and implement them if they make sense... but please don't question our sincerity or ability to deliver jobs, investment and choice to our Community, as we're always willing to try... back in the late 1,800’s the Welsh-Owen Hotel was a landmark business on that block and we’re hoping to bring back that “grandeur” with a new form of life in what we hope to call “the Welsh-Owen Hotel and Plaza” and be proud doing it...

APM eyes new hotel for Charlottetown
JIM DAY The Guardian
APM has big plans for a downtown Charlottetown property that housed the Kays Brothers building for 45 years. Tim Banks, CEO of the construction and property development company, is working to secure a deal to proceed with a $22-million project called the Welsh-Owen Hotel and Plaza Development. Banks is looking to develop a 120-room hotel, a parking garage with about 63 spaces, 14 fully furnished apartment units and six condominium units.
The property, cornering Queen, Water and King streets, would also house a commercial tenant in a financial institution and likely continue to lease space to the Confederation Bridge. “Our design here has been done to be consistent with what we believe is the Charlottetown heritage look,’’ said Banks.“We’ve had a number of people review the plans, including (historian) Catherine Hennessey.
We know at some particular point we’ll be going to a public meeting with respect to the property.’’ Banks says the development will be contingent on the province proceeding with a proposed convention centre in the area. Current costing of the project must also come within APM’s original “thumbnail budget.’’ And a detail must be finalized with the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation (CADC), which purchased the Kays Building on Queen Street last year for $750,000 after the wholesale company shut down. “They’ve (CADC) given us the clear understanding that the property is available subject to them not losing money with respect to the agreement that we have with them,’’ said Banks. “And the reason we are actually talking (to media) about it today is if somebody has a better idea (for developing the property) they should go to CADC because we are making them a proposal and we believe that our proposal is substantive in nature.
The four-storey building was constructed by a former premier in 1872 and has been home to four Island newspapers, a tobacco manufacturer and even an egg company. Banks says if the project is given the green light, he will work to get a licensed agreement with a branded hotel group, hopefully Courtyard by Marriott. He sees a branded hotel, which rewards repeat customers, as a tool that is missing in the capital city’s arsenal for attracting tourists and business visitors. “I have been consistent and strong in saying that to strengthen tourism in Prince Edward Island, we have to give them a better product at a competitive price, and that is what we are trying to do here,’’ he said. “Why we are so strong in bringing this product to market is because there has been a void in our market here in terms of a branded hotel.’’ Banks says he wants construction to begin in early September with the hotel opening on July 15, 2011.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How about some solutions for a change...

I took a look at a number of comments "posted" following this CBC story and if I could sum them up it would appear that Islanders perceive Olive as a bit of a "whiner" and as one person put it "I think Olive would complain at a free lunch" probably sums it up best.... I'm thinking people might take Olive a little more seriously if she spent more time on the "issues at hand" than trying to grandstand on petty issues like where the Premier is... just where are her solutions for rural Prince Edward Island as Islanders might like to know what the alternatives are.. we've certainly haven’t heard any new fresh ideas from her nor will you find anything new on the PEI Conservative web site... when the media interviewed her for this sound bite she had a perfect opportunity to give us a preview of her solutions or add some construct criticism on the Ghiz plan for rural PEI but she seems more preoccupied with giving the Premier advice on where he should be.... maybe she should take some of her own advice and show up at a few events as well if she ever thinks Islanders are going to take her seriously... just in January alone, no one seen her or any of her Caucus at the Farmer's Market, the Lebanese New Years, or the QEH Foundation dinner or at a host of other events that are happening in our Island Communities... was she or any of her Caucus at the PEI Music Awards, the Charlottetown Driving Park or even West of Summerside for any social events? fact she's a bit of a hermit when it comes to "getting out and about" supporting Island social events and that's where you have to be if you want to get elected "out there pressing the flesh" with a smile on your face... and how about some "solutions for a change" when you're out there pressing the flesh...
Premier's no-show insult to rural Islanders: Opposition
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
CBC News
Opposition leader Olive Crane says the premier's absence during Tuesday's announcement of the government's new Rural Action Plan is an affront to rural Islanders.
Most of the Liberal caucus was on hand for the announcement, but Premier Robert Ghiz is vacationing in Mexico.
It was Deputy Premier George Webster who released the five-year rural economic development strategy in Tignish Tuesday, following almost two years of work and consultation with more than 1,200 Islanders.
"Do you remember when we had a hog industry? Do you remember when we had a tourism industry for the whole island? This is an insult to Prince Edward Island," said Crane.
"The premier should have been there. And on top of that, if he really cared what was in the document, he should have demanded they work around his schedule," she said.
But Robert Henderson, who represents the rural district of O'Leary-Inverness, wasn't bothered by the premier's no-show.
"Well I would say the premier's stamp is on the whole rural action plan...because he, as premier, has been emphasizing the demand on all the other members and departments to focus more on rural issues," he said.
Paula Biggar, who also represents a rural district, Tyne Valley-Linkletter, agrees. "In terms of the premier not being on deck for the announcement, we had our deputy ministers there who represent a big part of rural Prince Edward Island."
A spokesperson for Ghiz said the premier had booked his trip some time ago.
He also said the premier does take a deep interest in the Rural Action Plan, and that he's confident people realize how serious government is about the plan, based on how many MLAs showed up for the announcement.
The Liberals say the plan, which will cost $10 million a year to implement, will lead to a more vibrant and healthy rural P.E.I.
It sets out 40 recommendations and attempts to stem opposition criticism that the Liberal government is ignoring the province's small communities and primary industries.
Plans include establishing centres to be used as a source of information for businesses, supporting regional tourism associations, and diversifying agriculture.

Weird News or just funny....

Seriously, I can't believe how crazy some of these groups get. I suspect they all start out with great intentions but somewhere along the road they collect a few dollars and "bingo" they want to save the world... the good news here is when they toss our pie throwing Miss McCoy back to the States where she belongs just maybe she'll be kept busy looking for some shadows.... if PETA really believe they are helping the animal world here by chasing down an “old custom” that is totally harmless then these guys are really “weird”...
PETA proposes robot groundhog
January 27, 2010
PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. - An animal rights group wants organizers of Pennsylvania's Groundhog Day festival to replace Punxsutawney Phil with a robotic stand-in.
According to the longtime tradition, if Phil the groundhog sees his shadow on the Feb. 2 unofficial holiday, then there will be six more weeks of winter. If he does not appear to see his shadow, there will be an early spring.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it's unfair to keep the animal in captivity and subject him to the huge crowds and bright lights that accompany tens of thousands of revelers each year in Punxsutawney, a tiny borough about 65 miles (105 kilometres) northeast of Pittsburgh. PETA is suggesting the use of an animatronic model.
But William Deeley, president of the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, says the animal is "being treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania." The groundhog is kept in a climate-controlled environment and is inspected annually by the state Department of Agriculture.
Deeley says PETA isn't interested in Phil from Feb. 2 on, and is looking for publicity.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"you have to spend money before you make it"

There's an old business adage that says "you have to spend money before you make it" and that's certainly been the case with the Liquor Commissions in Ontario and Nova Scotia who opted to close and relocate a lot of their outlets next door to grocery stores... in Nova Scotia (early in the process) there were a few situations where the Boards even got free "net" rents but only when there were competing grocers in a specific competitive market... that's not the case in Stratford as the only other grocer TRA closed and with that most of the retail traffic has moved up to the Sobey’s location making the old Stratford Liquor store at “risk” of losing sales... for the most part the Nova Scotia Commissions have to pay rents like everyone else and in all cases spent considerably more on their "fit ups" that has been the practice of PEI... the net result in Nova Scotia since they took this strategic approach about 5 years ago has been an annual “profit gain” north of $40,000,000.00 for taxpayers... simply put food, wine and spirits go together and even if a naive Editor at the Guardian tells you otherwise don't believe them as it’s been proven over and over again... the liquor industry may very well be the "only game in Town" but they have proven that "you have to spend money before you make it" and I suspect the same will hold true here... the PEI Liquor Commission is a business just like Transcontinental, the owners of the Guardian, and they both have a responsibility to create the best return for their owners (the public) usually through a business plan.... the Guardian Editor seems to forget that the Cape Breton Post and the Journal Pioneer, owned by Transcontinental, are the "only game in Town" for those Communities... but when Transcontinental make what they believe are legitimate business changes, by closing out a lot of jobs in one Community, and then spending a bunch of money renovating to accommodate those jobs elsewhere, then it would appear they are just doing what the PEI Liquor Commission is doing in “getting the most return out of their business”... I wonder if our local Editor showed up at Transcontinental's annual meeting and questioned "why move the jobs at all?" what the response would be... my guess is she wouldn't have one... I would bet that the recent strategy being taken by the PEI Liquor Commission will prove to be profitable for PEI taxpayers in spite of what all the “naysayers” would like you to believe... in fact it wouldn't surprise me if they are already ahead with some of the progress changes they've already made..
The Guardian
Why do we fuss with our liquor stores? Usually the reason businesses upgrade is to keep ahead of the competition, but what competition is there for our liquor outlets?
There was much discussion last week about what the former minister responsible for the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission knew or didn't know about the fee taxpayers have to pay to relocate the Stratford liquor store. But one question that's not being asked is: why move the store at all? Islanders learned last week that taxpayers will have to pay $25,000 because of government's decision to break the lease on the current location of the Stratford liquor store and move the operation next to Sobeys. When government originally announced it was breaking the lease, Innovation Minister Allan Campbell, at the time responsible for the Liquor Control Commission, said Sobeys would pay out the remaining years on the lease, and that taxpayers would not be penalized. As it turns out, however, the taxpayer will be on the hook for $25,000 - something the minister was unaware of at the time - and which was made public last week. While this made for much political fodder, the fact is, this penalty is only a part of the overall cost of moving the outlet. The province will pay $70,687 annually in rent at the new location - about the same that it's paying now - but it will also have to pay an estimated $695,000 to renovate the new space and install beer coolers, interior furnishing and a wine-testing centre. No doubt this newest outlet will be a big draw, and officials say the increased sales will easily pay for the additional expenses. But why the urgency to keep moving and upgrading our liquor stores? It's only in recent years that government moved the liquor outlet at the Charlottetown Mall to its current location next to Sears. Usually the motivation for any business to upgrade and expand is to keep ahead of the competition. What competition do our liquor stores face? They're the only game in town. At the end of the day, people will buy their booze no matter where or how it's displayed. And while it's reasonable to occasionally give our outlets a facelift, it shouldn't be a spending priority, particularly when Islanders have every reason to brace themselves for leaner budgets ahead.

"no future entry" stamp....

I'm pretty impressed with Gail Shea and how well she handled this situation but what I'm not impressed with is how our local Guardian splashed their pictures of this incident over the front page and the CBC local news wasn't much better by providing a link to the incident... all the media are doing is giving "play" to other clowns like Miss McCoy who think they can get away with embarrassing our elected officials from doing their job... had the media shown a picture of Miss McCoy being "cuffed" and driven to the "Border" with a big "no future entry" stamp on her passport then I'd have given them some big "kudos" for the balanced reporting... PETA certainly have the right to put their opinions forward but they don't have the right to shove a pie in the face of our elected officials... this particular individual has already been found guilty of trespassing in Canada and once she's found guilty on this charge she should be sent packing... if anyone from Canada pulled something like this in the United States you can bet they wouldn't be allowed back there anytime soon... keep up the great work Gail...
Fisheries minister gets pie in face
Police charge 37-year-old woman with assault
Monday, January 25, 2010
CBC News
Police charged a 37-year-old woman with assault after she hit Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea in the face with a pie Monday at an event in Burlington, Ont.
Shea was delivering a speech at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters to open the Aquatic Life Research Facility when Emily McCoy of New York City stood up in the front row and planted the white cream pie squarely in Shea's face.
"Shame on you, Gail Shea," McKoy said before making a reference to the "bloody seal hunt."
The animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said McKoy was a PETA member and she carried out the incident to protest against what the group calls "the government's ill-advised sanction of the seal slaughter."
PETA also posted a video of the incident with commentary on its website.
Campaign manager Lindsay Rajt told Canwest News Service the group did not organize the incident, but The Canadian Press was reporting the group claimed responsibility.
The pie aimed at Shea was apparently made of tofu, though the fisheries minister told the Hamilton Spectator that it "tasted like shaving cream."
Shea did not require medical attention and returned to the podium after wiping the pie from her face.
"We're certainly sorry for that delay, but unfortunately these types of incidents come with the type of business that I'm in," she said.
"But back to the business at hand," she said.
Pie throwing was a more popular form of political protest in Canada a decade ago, with former prime minister Jean Chr├ętien and then cabinet minister St├ęphane Dion both getting hit in separate incidents.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Congratulations Heather... "Smiles" all over...

Breaking News: "Big Smiles"

Here's some major good news for PEI and Canada that should be no surprise to anyone who follows PEI's Heather Moyse... it is “now official” that Heather has made the Canadian Olympic Team and it will be no surprise to me when she's holding “GOLD” on the podium in Vancouver in February... I've been following Heather for many years and sent quite a few emails back and forth over that time and she always adds "Smiles" at the end of all her communications... I bet she has the biggest "smile" on her now as she's just found out that she has "made the Team" and I also can't stop smiling for her... you can check out Heather's blog at and you can also go to “who’s on the bag?” which is a new promo with Heather and Lululemon Athletica one of her sponsors... my second prediction for the year is we're soon going to see "Gold" on PEI soon...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Put A Sock In It," Boys.... or go home!

Now I don't usually try and "knock a business" but like a lot of Islanders I'm getting a little sick of Ocean Choice whining about an "exclusivity" as if they own our ocean... boys, and that includes your high priced spin doctor, Jack.... “give it up!!!!” as you're in "business", which in case you don't know is a "free enterprise system", and because some previous Government was crazy enough to think they "controlled everything" you should have been enterprising enough to know it would have no longevity from a "market" point of view or from the public for that matter... Ocean Choice have had a great run at it since they scooped up the Polar business and they should have had enough time to learn how to deal in the real world of business as opposed to "threatening" Islanders every time they don't like something... I can't even imagine how “whatever Mariner Seafood’s did” would ever be a threat to Ocean Choice... what my competitors do in the marketplace is their business and if they want to build and develop buildings below cost and take on too much debt, then they can fill their boots... but we’re going to run our business by providing service, choice and value to our customers and we’re not going to worry about the Government giving an "exclusive" to our competitors... as we can fend for ourselves without their business and Ocean Choice should be able to do the same... I wish I could be the Minister of Fisheries for a day as that would be about as long as it would take me to get the message to Ocean Choice to "put a sock in it" or go home.... "as you're not getting a free ride" on PEI taxpayers any longer....
Seafood processor alleges contract breach
Monday, January 18, 2010
CBC News
The CEO of Newfoundland-based seafood processor Ocean Choice says he believes the P.E.I. government has broken its contract agreement with the company.
Blaine Sullivan, CEO of Ocean Choice, said his company was not informed about a large loan to one of its competitors.
"I was very disappointed that they haven't been forthcoming with us," he said Monday.
In 2004, the P.E.I. government signed a contract with Ocean Choice when the company bought the remains of Polar Foods International, a P.E.I.-based food processing company that was heading for bankruptcy.
A clause in that contract says if the province offers financing to one of Ocean Choice's processing competitors, it must offer comparable financing to Ocean Choice.
Last week, a $400,000 loan to Mariner Seafoods came to light when the president of the company filed financial statements with the P.E.I. Supreme Court in order to get protection from his creditors.
Sullivan said he met with P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Allan Campbell last week and the April 2009 loan to Mariner Seafoods was never mentioned.
"We'd certainly hope that the P.E.I. government would want to live up to the agreement," said Sullivan. "Or, at least sit down with us and negotiate changes in the agreement that they can live with and we can all live with."
Under the purchase agreement, if the government breaks the contract, Ocean Choice can walk away from its remaining loan payments for Polar Foods — an estimated $10 million.
Campbell said the loan to Mariner Seafoods was for a snow crab line and not lobster, and therefore doesn't break the agreement with Ocean Choice.
"If they want to take a look at this and if they think that we're providing financing to a competitor, we'll have that discussion and we probably need to get some legal opinion on that," Campbell said. "If that is indeed the case we'll look at something along the same terms."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Small Town Politics... everywhere...

I grew up in the small Town of Summerside and there was a very fine gentlemen there in the name of Wally MacGillivray an accountant who was the Treasurer of M. F. Schurman Company Limited one of the Town’s oldest and largest employers. It was said that Harold Schurman back in the late sixties had parachuted young Wally into Town from away to help “reorganize” the Company and introduce computers into the business and he did that and a hell of a lot more for our Community.

Wally and Joan and their young family were very involved in our community and there were very few events or causes that you wouldn’t find one of them working hard for. Back then our Island legislature had 16 districts which were represented by a Councillor (protestant) and an Assemblyman (catholic) and our Town had the good fortune of being represented by the Premier of the day Alex Campbell and his catholic running mate T. Earle Hickey an accountant who was the Minister of Finance. In 1978 Premier Campbell was heading into his fourth term but his Government was getting a little long in the tooth according to the Opposition and Hickey had stepped down prior to the election call so who better to fill his shoes than “Wally” who was well entrenched in the local liberal party. Campbell’s Government won a squeaker 17 to 15 but unfortunately Wally’s “timing” wasn’t the best as he was beaten by George McMahon, a lawyer who in the previous election had showed well against Hickey, and no “new” liberals like Wally were elected. Premier Alex Campbell stepped down later that year and liberal Bennett Campbell (no relation) took over and against the advice of many liberals he went to the polls in 1979 and got hammered 21 to 11, but Wally was smart enough and busy back at work to know the tide had already turned in favour of the Tories so he didn’t put his name forward.

A couple of years later Wally was getting a little itchy to get back into politics as he really wanted to do something to help his Community so he decided to take a run at local municipal politics hoping that that it may prove to the locals that he was capable and sincere and the experience would hold him in good stead if and when the Provincial Tory tide was about to change. Wally won a land slide municipal election in Summerside as a Town Councillor and was quickly appointed Finance Chair and set out to put in place some fiscal responsibility on behalf of the Town. He went on to do a brilliant job but during his term he quickly recognized that unlike private enterprise, where common sense mostly prevails, he found himself fighting a battle of small mindedness and nepotism which always seemed to be forefront in the media.
A number of years later, when it was the deadline to file municipal papers for re-election, a young journalist from the Journal Pioneer, who was shocked that Wally hadn’t filed, called him to ask why and I think I can still remember a bit of his response, “I think I’ve done my name enough damage for now”… being what he perceived was the result of being dragged down to the pettiness of municipal politics.

I know I and many others were quite disappointed that the Town had lost such a great public talent so in frustration I queried one of my friends, just what the problem was, and he said the answer to my question was on the sign leading into Summerside that should have said “the world’s greatest collection of small minded thinkers”. I’ve always found my friend’s cynicism quite funny, with a hint of truth, but after many years of now living in Charlottetown and recently watching Charlottetown Councillor’s Devine and Tweel at their best fighting a church congregation over changes to some doors …. I now realize that my friend’s imaginary sign could easily be erected as a lighted billboard on the way into Charlottetown (of course subject to getting a permit). Some would argue that this may be the case in a lot of Communities in this Region or in our Country but as a frequent traveler and developer in most, it’s not always been my experience, as there are some really good people representing us out there who are being dragged down like Wally was. It’s unfortunate that our most talented don’t always pursue or succeed at our public offices but I think it’s up to all of us to encourage and support good people if we want good representation. We can also do this by getting out and voting as our municipal voter turnout is abysmal at the best of times. So maybe it’s time to be looking around in your community and encourage good practical people to come forward by offering your support. As it’s my guess that the debt loads our Communities are building up, through the infrastructure program, are going to demand good representatives like Wally in the future, otherwise we’ll pay the penalty at tax time….

Friday, January 15, 2010

"pin-holes in the doors"... says Devine..

There's a lot of issues in this World and surely this one ranks right up there for the folks at City Hall and it's no surprise to me in reading this story that the two names that stick out here are Tweel and Devine... I'm guessing the reason members of the congregation didn't show up at the last meeting was they couldn't stomach turning the other cheek but I think I've got a great solution... put a couple of these folks from Council on a "slow boat to China"... and just maybe they'd miss the November election....

The lyrics for "Slow Boat to China" start:

I'd love to get you

On a slow boat to China,
All to myself alone.
Get you to keep you in my arms evermore,
Leave all your lovers
Weeping on the faraway shore.

Frank Loesser wrote and circulated the song in 1945, but did not get a copyright until 1948.
Where did he get the phrase? His daughter, Susan Loesser, author of a biography of her father, A Most Remarkable Fella (1993), writes:

"I'd like to get you on a slow boat to China" was a well-known phrase among poker players, referring to a person who lost steadily and handsomely. My father turned it into a romantic song, placing the title in the mainstream of catch-phrases in 1947.
The idea, of course, was that traveling by boat to China was about as long and slow a trip as one could imagine. Loesser moved the phrase from the poker table to a more romantic setting. The song was very popular in its time (and has been revived and sung from time to time over the years by such notables as Kay Kyser, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Buffett, and Frank Sinatra, among others). The phrase then moved into general parlance to mean anything that takes a lonnnnnnng time.

Historic Charlottetown church's appeal for glass in new doors rejected by council
The Guardian
Trinity United Church in Charlottetown is not getting another chance to request windows for its new front doors. It appealed to Charlottetown City Council for reconsideration of a council decision last October but the appeal was denied at the January council meeting this week. The church wants to replace existing large sliding doors because of terrible drafts from the entry system in the winter, said Coun. Kim Devine, chair of the planning and heritage committee for the city. “Heritage board approved new doors that swing out,” she said. “What the church asked for, they applied to Heritage Board for, was to put glass panels in the doors.” It was that request for glass that was rejected. Coun. Mitchell Tweel told council that no one from Trinity Church was at the planning board meeting where the reconsideration was discussed and rejected. “As you know it is an historical church in our city,” said Tweel. “Since this is second go-around, I just wonder if there is some kind of a compromise or solution that the city and hopefully Trinity Church and the congregation can live with.” Heritage board has meet with the church on more that one occasion regarding the issue, said Devine. “(The church) came to at least two meetings, that I can recall, where we did discuss solutions,” she said. “We discussed solutions like security cameras,” said Devine. “We discussed security solutions like pin-holes in the doors so that they can see members of the congregation coming up. We discussed at the last planning board meeting an interior vestibule that would not change the look of the doors. “You are absolutely right about the historic importance of that church, Councillor Tweel. It is the oldest church in the city. It was built around the time of Confederation, 1864, and the doors are very significant, character-defining element of that church. “Heritage board feels that on a church of such importance in the city, that we do need to maintain the historical elements that define the integrity of that building.” The appeal was rejected because there was no new information or doubt about the correctness of the original decision, said Devine.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chasing the wrong tail...

Last summer when the Canadian dollar was at about 84 cents there were hardly any American's visiting Canada let alone PEI and less taking up the temptation of playing Mill River because of the $800,000 spent on the Big Break. This year the Canadian dollar is nearly par with the US dollar and making it even more of a deterrent for our US neighbours to visit PEI... the likelihood that PEI will get its return on investment out of travellers coming from Texas, Florida or California is highly unlikely as airfare from any of these locations in our prime golf season is north of $1,400 per person because most of the airlines are already full... in contrast Islanders can get to those locations during the winters for about half the fare... a golf week from mid June to the end of August at Rodd's Crowbush Resort with golf, food, lodging and travel is in the neighbourhood of $4,250 per person for the week... in contrast between now and the end of April Islanders can golf in Florida or Texas at a comparable all inclusive PGA resort for $2,425 per person for the week... in fact here's a chance to play at peak times in the States for about $120 a night so it's pretty tough for PEI to compete with this... 15 years ago we were a bargain to the American market but with today's dollar value and border crossing issues I don't think this is now the case... my guess is there is probably 10 times as much opportunity to lure people here from a little closer to home like Quebec, Ontario or New England without spending as much money on marketing and we would probably get triple the results... seems like we're chasing the wrong tail....
P.E.I. aims to turn Big Break viewers to tourists
Monday, January 11, 2010
CBC News
Millions of people watched the Golf Channel's reality series Big Break Prince Edward Island, and the province is now starting the work of converting those viewers into tourists.
The 11-episode series, which ran last spring across North America, showcased P.E.I.'s Rodd Mill River golf course. More than 10 million TV sets tuned in, an average of just under one million viewers per episode, 20 per cent more viewers than the previous Big Break series set in Michigan.
While that's good news, said Brenda Gallant, director of marketing communications for the Department of Tourism, the work of attracting those people to P.E.I. is just beginning.
"This was an exercise in saying, Prince Edward Island needs to be recognized, needs to be known beyond the traditional markets we've been working with," said Gallant.
"The Golf Channel gave us that opportunity."
That opportunity came after the province handed the Golf Channel a cheque for $850,000, but that is far from the end of the revenue Golf Channel will earn. The Department of Tourism is now working with the Golf Channel on an advertising strategy to lure the viewers to visit P.E.I.
Some of the strongest interest as a result of the show came from the southern U.S., a region that currently brings fewer than 15,000 visitors a year to the Island.
"Texas, Florida and California really stood out," said Gallant.
"Those are the states that we did see a lot of inquiries as a result, inquiries for visitor guides."
Big Break Prince Edward Island will premier in Japan in March, and Gallant is eager to see what interest the show brings there.

Great Interview... Great Exposure for UPEI

Great interview with Wade MacLauchlan on the Globe and Mail's web site today and well worth reading... the University will miss him at the end of 2011 and there is a lot of speculation as to what he might do but my guess it will be "BIG"... great exposure for UPEI and the closing answer to the last question sums it up as to what a great job he's done... keep it up Wade...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Shame on you Mike.... "knocking" business

It's really disappointing to see a guy like Mike Currie stooping to the level of Jim Bagnall and using members of our business community to grandstand for their own political gain... just because they believe it plays well with Islanders to crap all over business people doesn't mean they should descend to that level... it may appear fashionable to play on Kevin Murphy's success but the audacity of Mike Currie to say "the privileged seem to be getting everything" is way out of line... it could have been easily the “theme song” when Mike was in charge of our Highways and Development departments if you listened to some of our small minded Liberals of the day... and I'm pretty sure when Mike was sporting around Cardigan in his Mercedes or flipping over to Boughton Island in his Sea Ray boat (while hauling in over $110,000.00 as a Cabinet Minister) there were likely some of those small minded individuals in Georgetown who might have thought he was “privileged” but not I... for some reason lately Island politicians think they have some God given license to "call out" a business or business individuals because its popular around the coffee shops and I think it's time our business community started speaking out... we've all heard the old story about the Island fisherman who threw a bunch of lobsters up on to the wharf and a tourist who was looking on yelled down to the fisherman that the lobsters might "get away" and the old fisherman piped up "not to worry boy, they're like Islanders, as soon as one tries to get ahead the others will haul him back"... it's not a very becoming story for us Islanders but my parents never taught us to begrudge anyone from getting ahead and I hope I never catch my kids at it... as my Mom always said it's more likely jealousy or ignorance that these people suffer and while it's easy for any of us to go to that level (I'd love to have Kevin's hair) it shouldn't be at the expense of our precious Island... whether you're a farmer, a fisher, a tourist owner, a manufacturer, a woodlot owner, etc... you're really a business operator not unlike a car dealer, grocer or a retail operator and I'll continue to put out the argument that PEI's biggest industry is really "small business" all of which relies on customers and the commerce of banking... it’s been my experience that banks always want to lend as that’s how they make their money but policies usually linked to global issues or trends sometimes preclude them from doing so... no matter how big or how small the business is the loan requirements to keep the business going don't always meet the criteria of conventional banking sources and that is why (particularly in these economic times) that Governments have to step in and assist big companies like the Irving's, as well as the small lobster fishers and all those in between, to keep our PEI economy vibrant... no one more than Mike Currie should know this and he should also know that "knocking" someone's business success in the public scares the living daylights out of traditional "bankers" to the point that they are less apt to lend here to others if they keep seeing our businesses being bashed.... Mike, you always supported business and you should stick to it as it looks better on you than following the footsteps of your interim leader chasing down the ghosts of PNP....
P.E.I. Opposition cries conflict in board member loan
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
CBC News
There are potential conflicts of interest in a loan provided to a P.E.I. entrepreneur recently appointed to a board that oversees government funding to business, says MLA Mike Currie.
Kevin Murphy was appointed to the board of directors of Innovation PEI in early December. A week later, cabinet approved a $250,000 loan to Murphy Investments.
"It's the privileged that seem to be getting everything," said Currie, the P.C. innovation critic.
"The premier should look at the optics, you know, what kind of conflict is here."
Cabinet would not normally have to approve a loan of this size. That decision would normally be made by the board of Innovation PEI.
Murphy's companies already have loans out with the government in excess of $2 million or $2.5 million, which means any further lending must be approved by cabinet.
Currie is concerned by the conflicts that could occur with someone who already owed so much money to the government, and was looking for more, sitting on a board that approves government loans to businesses. The privileged seem to be getting everything, says Currie.
Innovation Minister Allan Campbell defends the appointment and the loan. He acknowledged some could see a conflict of interest in the situation, but said Murphy, who owns or has interest in a number of tourism businesses in Charlottetown, brings important experience to the board.
"I'm pleased with the expertise that Mr. Murphy brings to the table and, you know, I think he has a lot to offer and we're hoping to tap into that," said Campbell.
Murphy expressed disappointment with Currie's comments.
"I was asked to sit on a board. I accepted. I was honoured and willing to give back to P.E.I. and try to assist the way I can," he said.
Murphy went on to point out he has been involved with both Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments over the last 30 years.
"We have many loans. This one in particular was early fall that it has been going on," he said.
"Mr. Currie has a short memory when it comes to what Kevin Murphy has done for all governments over the last 30 years."
Murphy said he would excuse himself from any discussions at the board where there might be a conflict.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Fish To Fry".... in Atlantic Business....

January's Issue of "Atlantic Business" magazine was released today as an insert to the Globe and Mail and will probably hit desks and newsstands in our Region over the next couple of days. I'm pleased to announce that I will now be a regular featured columnist in their magazine and a routine contributor to their new Blog at The title of my new column is "Fish To Fry" and I'm hoping to use it to share some of my experiences of growing a business here in Atlantic Canada in the hopes that my stories may spark a similar fire in someone else's efforts to move forward, particularly the youth in our community.... Some of you will like it; others may not, but either way I can guarantee you that I will be defending our free enterprise system at the expense of all those "don't get ahead gang" members and "NIMBY" associates that seem to want stop business enterprises from moving forward... my first article for the magazine is "Why Blog" and my first post on their blog is titled "Maybe it's time for some 'new shoes'.." a story about Atlantic Lottery ... back in October the Editor of the Guardian wrote an editorial entitled "Bloggers? Off with their heads" which is pretty much self explanatory and I'm only hoping I can live up to the illustrious journalism principles set out by staff and editor of The Guardian....

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Let's continue to look at this...

I hadn't seen my Mom for a few days so against my better judgement I ventured out Sunday afternoon to Summerside in what were not very nice conditions... the roads were very slushy and the closer I got to Summerside the worst it seemed to get but I was driving a heavy SUV with new winter tires so I continued on slowly. When I got on the Blue Shank Rd I took a short cut on a secondary road over to highway # 2 and I can tell you I didn't feel safe even with the vehicle I had... after an hour’s visit with Mom the snow appeared to be changing to rain so I headed back to Charlottetown but by the time I reached Fredericton (PEI) it was snowing again and extremely dangerous... people were still lots of people on the roads and there were a few cars in the ditch but my guess is that most of the blame on a day like that has to be put on drivers like myself who shouldn't have really been out there in these types of conditions... I'm a bigger promoter of winter tires and a few years ago we enforced our own Company policy that requires all our vehicles to have 4 winter tires.... Ron MacKinley is a pretty practical guy and he's done the right thing restricting hand held devices while driving and I suspect by next year he'll have the supporting data to move forward on making winter tires mandatory using some tax relief for those who might have trouble affording the costs of such... this time last year I gave a response to the Guardian's Editorial on Considering the merits of winter tires and it might be worth looking at that post again it's great to see that our Government is looking into these kinds of safety issues as our weather patterns seem to be a lot more ice than snow these days...
Winter tire users in fewer crashes: P.E.I. study
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
CBC News
A study last winter of traffic accidents on P.E.I. found that six per cent of vehicles involved had winter tires, but the transportation minister calls the study inconclusive.
Ron MacKinley told CBC News on Monday his department has been recommending Islanders put winter tires on their cars, but he's not convinced the province should make them mandatory, as Quebec did in 2008.
For last winter's study, police on P.E.I. recorded whether the 1,522 vehicles involved in accidents between Nov. 1, 2008, and April 30, 2009, had winter tires installed, finding that 92 did, or about six per cent. The study was a simple one, MacKinley said, and didn't include information about the cause of any of the accidents or how many happened during poor weather conditions.
"It's not what you'd call a scientific study, but it does give us some data to go on," he said.
"We're not at this time prepared to legislate mandatory snow tires. What we want to do is work with the people and suggest that they have their snow tires and go from there."
The department does have some information on how many P.E.I. cars are equipped with winter tires. A few years ago transportation officials surveyed Island parking lots and found 60 per cent did.
MacKinley thinks that number is even higher now, and has asked for another parking lot count in 2010.
Police agencies are continuing to collect data on whether vehicles in crashes have winter tires, and MacKinley has asked his department to see what kind of information Quebec has gathered since its law came into effect.
MacKinley said he is reluctant to legislate mandatory winter tires, because he does not want to penalize people who only take their vehicles out if the streets are clear.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sound Familiar... out Tracadie way....

As most of my friends know I'm a bit of a motoring "gearhead" and spend a lot of my time chasing down the latest news on cars particularly anything to do with Porsches. So tonight I happened along this YouTube video of a recent Porsche rally where fans often stand at a corner or in the middle of a straight away, sometimes for hours, just to get a glimpse of their favourite car. If you're lucky, you get a prime spot at a sharp turn or abrupt elevation that leads to airborne cars. Lucky for us car enthusiasts, the Internet exists so that the best moments of these races are captured for our enjoyment. So here's a video of over eight minutes of high-revving Porsche GT3 rally cars ripping around a typical rally course. Just about every shot is a keeper and the intense (and vivid) screams of the hopped up boxer engines is more than enough reason to spend a few minutes of your time watching the footage after the jump. Take notice of the M & M car in this video as I recently had a drive with a taxi driver in Manchester NH who surely must have been driving this car on the weekend. People will often ask me how I could possibly drive my Porsche on our PEI roads but once you see this video you'll soon appreciate just exactly the pounding a Porsche can take and you can still use it as a daily driver... so if you've heard something that sounds like this out Tracadie way late some night then my guess is you probably know who it was and if you think they only do this kind of stuff on a nice summer day then take another moment and have a look at this video as well so Happy motoring this Year and always remember to drive safe...

Monday, January 4, 2010

How About A Good Old "Traffic Cop"....

Well it certainly sounds like a nice idea but the reality is that the Farmer's Market was already Downtown, in CADC's "Harbourside" development, for a number of years and at that time the Market's Board of Director's "wanted out" as there was "no parking and no traffic"... back then I was involved with "The Cupboard" a high-end antique and giftware shop next to the Market in what is now the "Campbell Lea Law Firm" and we always got a lot of spin off traffic from the market which was much appreciated... but the "Market", like a lot of other larger progressive retailers, chose to relocate to a higher traffic area with a lot more parking... and the results over the years have been very positive to the point that they have already expanded "their building" and parking a couple of times and it surprises me that if there were a demand from more vendors for space, as Mayor Lee claims, then I'd expect the Market's Board would expand again... but for the Mayor to go out and encourage more "competition" for the existing Farmer's Market seems a bit odd to me and probably not financially feasible particularly when we look at the results of the "Best of PEI" and their recent venture in Downtown Charlottetown... the current Farmer's Market has really turned itself into a "Regional" marketplace that attracts people from all across the Island something the old Downtown location always struggled to do... it seems as though Mayor Lee is only focused on what should be done for Downtown and the rest of the City goes without... if there is any help Mayor Lee could pass on to the Farmer's Market it might be having the City Police help with some good old "traffic directions" on Saturday's between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm so customers can get in and out of the current market a little safer during their busy periods... a safer ingress and egress would probably bring more business to the market and in turn bring more people to Charlottetown which is good for everyone including our farmers and crafts people... a pimped out "Traffic Cop" would add a nice touch to a great market outing...
Lee pursuing farmers' market for downtown
The Guardian
Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee wants to breathe new life into the concept of a farmers’ market in the downtown core. Lee said he intends to approach the current operators of the Farmers’ Market on Belvedere Avenue with a view to possibly opening a second location in the downtown area.It’s certainly not a new topic of conversation. A market in downtown Charlottetown has been talked about for years. In 2004, Downtown Charlottetown Inc. (DCI) issued a request for interested vendors for a market designed to showcase products made and grown on P.E.I. with the intent to create a market on the grounds outside Confederation Centre of the Arts. At the time, they were looking for Island artists, crafts people and performing artists as well as fresh fruit, vegetable and flower vendors for a market outside the Confederation Centre at Grafton and Queen streets. The idea there was to operate for a few hours on Saturdays. Lee isn’t sure how his plan would play out, where the market would be or when it would operate but he does stress that it would in no way replace the current market on Belvedere Avenue. “Definitely not. We aren’t about to try and force the current operation to make any changes to the operation,” Lee said recently. “It seems that the current operation is working extremely well for the people that are there.” But Lee does have concerns with the current market. “The two concerns that continue to be expressed to me is the fact there is a need for a market in the downtown core area and, second, I understand there are numerous vendors out there in the farming community who have been waiting for years to get into the Belvedere market but the space simply isn’t there and chances of getting in aren’t all that great.” Lee wants to find out from the farming community whether there is a desire for a second market. “Certainly, I’m all in favour of that. I’m looking forward to having discussions with people early in 2010 to see if we can move forward on this.” A lot of the talk over the years has zeroed in on Charlottetown’s waterfront. Some thought the current location of Founders’ Hall was the perfect area for a farmers’ market. The idea for a waterfront location always centred on its operating seven days a week, enticing the thousands of tourists who visit on those cruise ships each summer and fall. “I think it’s really a matter of getting the right players in the room to come to some type of agreement on what it can and should be,” Lee said.

Here We Go Again..... "EEERP".... up our taxes..

Eastern End Entranceway Redevelopment Plan... "EEERP"... sounds more like "Burp" to me as the whole idea of another rink complex seems a bit hard to swallow..... but it wasn't too long ago that I predicted that since Basil opened his new $44,000,000.00 Wellness Centre in Summerside it wouldn't be long before Clifford would want one and “why not try and outdo them”... surely the City can't be seriously thinking about building another white elephant with a rink in it but they've done sillier things... the City already has a $78,000,000.00 debt so why not pop it over the $100,000,000.00 mark so we can all pay more taxes for something we don’t need... how do you spell "throw the bums out"...
Civic Centre may see big changes
The Guardian
The future of the Charlottetown Civic Centre is going to come under close scrutiny in 2010.
A report in 2009 gave the city three options on the 19-year-old arena — renovate, leave it as is or build a brand new rink from the ground up.
The Civic Centre gets $300,000 in funding now from the three levels of government for upkeep. To renovate it to the point where it would be a bowl-style arena like most major rinks would cost at least $10 million (and most likely a lot more).
Now comes the Eastern End Entranceway Redevelopment Plan, the second phase of the market and strategic analysis on the Civic Centre’s future. But that plan includes much more than just the rink itself. It’s going to look at everything in the immediate area — the old oil tank farm off Grafton Street, the Department of Highways depot, the Charlottetown Driving Park and plenty of the vacant land in the area.
“As opposed to us simply looking at that whole area on a piecemeal basis we’ve decided to engage an outside expert to work with a steering committee,’’ Mayor Clifford Lee said in a year-end interview.
That committee consists of representatives from the City of Charlottetown, Charlottetown Civic Centre Management Inc., Charlottetown Harbour Authority and Charlottetown Area Development Corporation.
“Will we see a new Charlottetown Civic Centre being constructed in the next year? Not likely,’’ Lee said with a tone that put extra emphasis on ‘not likely’, “but it does create an opportunity for partnerships between a lot of different parties. Obviously there is a lot of interest there in that area of our city, a lot of opportunities in that area for our city.’’
At the end of the day, if a new arena is built it will likely take the financial might of all levels of government. But the city’s concern doesn’t end with the cost of building a new arena.
“What can we afford to build and what can we afford to maintain?’’
One of the ideas that could be toyed with is regional co-operation in terms of cost and maintenance.
The CARI complex operates in that manner. Charlottetown foots the lion’s share of the bill but not all of it. Help arrives from the surrounding areas.
Speaking of CARI, it had a banner year in 2009 with an estimated 450,000 visitations. The aquatics area alone had 120,000 visits.
CARI is in the midst of a $1.5-million retrofit to reduce the level of energy needed to light, heat, dehumidify and cool the facility. There are 18 projects recommended in an energy audit that are scheduled to be finished by the end of 2010. CARI received more than $200,000 in upgrades from the three levels of government in 2009 to make it Canada Games ready
The Simmons Sports Centre received a number of upgrades in 2009 — to the brine system and washroom area of the dressing rooms. The facility was scheduled to get a desiccant dehimidifier in late December.
The Cody Banks Arena is getting two new dressing rooms early in 2010.
But the major focus will be on the eastern gateway plan.
“I think there is a clear distinction, in my view, between what is a challenge and what is an opportunity and I really see this whole area as an opportunity for this area,’’ Lee said.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

100% in Agreement.... "Open" for Business...

What could be possibly wrong with letting businesses choose when they can or cannot open for business... the world didn't end last summer and fall when the retail stores were allow to open on Sundays and I'm pretty sure the extra manpower required to keep them open was certainly appreciated by those who needed it.... I often get asked when retailers like Costco and others might show up on PEI and my guess is not until some of our protocol "rules" restricting them from being able to run their business without the Government's nose always being in it... it's time to "Open" PEI up for business....
Sunday shopping a retailer decision
As a former Islander (and father of two children born on P.E.I.), I'm appalled that the issue of Sunday shopping continues to waste the time and energy of the province. Since P.E.I. promotes itself as business-friendly, it's shocking that it continues to tell one segment of that business community when it can and cannot conduct its affairs. Hardly the message the province wants to promote. The easy and obvious solution, and one adopted by most provinces, is to let the retailer and the consumer decide when stores open or close. There's no need to dictate hours of operation. Surely it's time to close debate and let retailers make their own business decisions. Deal with more important issues, Mr. Ghiz.
John Nowlan,