When the gate was first locked in 2015 many community members were confused as to why. Paul Gallant has since declared several reasons for locking the gate:
Littering and vandalism: Over the past few years, Paul has reported that the amount of littering by students accessing the pathway has been unacceptable as it had begun to downgrade the look of his properties (CBC News 2015). Gallant told CBC that the gate has “reduced damage to vehicles, as well as littering and vandalism that has plagued him and his tenants for years” (CBC News 2015).
Trespassing: Gallant has threatened to take up the issue of trespassing with the city of Charlottetown due to the amount of students spotted jumping the fence injuring themselves and the property while the gate was locked. This has concerned the city itself because the trespassing laws on Prince Edward Island state that “entering a fenced or enclosed area” can have a fine ranging from two hundred to two thousand dollars (CLIA PEI).
Several groups have taken interest in this issue over the last year and a half and have become directly involved.
The City of Charlottetown has taken a direct stance against the actions taken by Paul Gallant. Just a few months after he locked the gate in 2015, the city forced him to open it and declared they would cut any lock he chose to put up, if he were to go against their wishes (Stewart 2015). The City has since placed a sign on the gate declaring it open between the hours of six-thirty am and ten-thirty pm, with a city worker in charge of controlling the hours. Although many would believe since the city has taken control, that the controversy would finally end, but a few weeks after the sign was put up the city was forced to take Paul and his company to court seeking an injunction restraining them from blocking the pathway as it’s an “ unlawful interference with the right of access and use of walkway” (CBC News 2015). This directly breaches the Charlottetown Area Municipalities Act as reported by CBC news. On October 8th 2016, Paul sent out a letter to all students living in Brown’s Court stating that the gate would be locked again as of the following Monday (Stewart 2016). In a section of his letter he stated
“I’ve had a plan proposal drawn up that I am paying for through MacKinnon Road and had met with UPEI student council and had their approval. This was taken to the city and they did not favour this area as it was too costly. Obviously, safety is not their main concern.One year ago, the city signed an agreement with me that they would negotiate quickly and fairly if I opened the gate until we could come up with a resolution. To this day the city has done nothing to help me in this matter and basically I got conned into opening the gate” (qtd. In Stewart 2016).
This letter went public within the next few days, and the City took action again by locking the gate open during the hours stated before so there was no way Paul could go through with his threats (Stewart 2016).
As of now the issue is at a standstill. The gate is currently open between the hours put in place by the City of Charlottetown and Paul Gallant has yet to make any advances on his threats placed this past October. Although this issue is currently taken care of by the City there is no guarantee that this accessible resource will always be there, as Paul could move forward with his threats at any time. With Prince Edward Island about to undergo another harsh winter, it is imperative that we keep this gateway accessible to students and the community. It is strongly encouraged that everyone who cares about this issue to use this resource frequently and respectively as much as possible in hopes they see no reason to shut it down.
Short Term Options
In addition to making sure that everyone takes advantage of this resource, there are a few solutions that will impact this issue by making the facts of the situation well known to not only the students who are directly affected, but the community as a whole.
Email: Sending out weekly emails to all students at both Holland College and the University of Prince Edward Island will be highly effective. It is an efficient way to clearly explain the issue and keep everyone updated and involved. Even though many don’t read all emails sent to them, those who receive emails from the student union always skim through the email as it’s considered to be important and a reliable source, therefore, many people will read about the issue on their smartphone, and will be aware of what they need to do.
Word of mouth: Since our community is very small and close knit, word of this issue will spread fast as it’s affecting our youth and our education.
Social media: Lastly, since social media has become a widespread outlet for the entire community both young and old, creating a facebook group and adding members of the UPEI community would effectively spread awareness of this issue. Creating a hashtag and tweeting about the issue could also raise awareness from large groups of people. When it comes to social media, there are many options.
Advice to People Involved
When a situation like this occurs in such a small community like Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, it makes a large change in the community, although the actual issue may not directly affect everyone, the effect of the issue does. Due to the Browns Court Gate being locked, many people were forced to walk down by Superstore and down University Avenue to get to class, which as previously mentioned, can add 30 plus minutes to one's daily journey to school. This could mean that the new walking path, which is one of the busiest streets in Charlottetown, could become overpopulated with walkers, and this could affect people driving as well. The public bussing system would also see a decrease of people getting on and off at the UPEI stops, because people are forced to walk.
Advice for individuals who are directly or indirectly involved in the issue, would be to stick together. It seems as though the frustration of this controversy has brought the community together, and although it is good that the gate is open now, the community needs to be ready for any sudden changes to be made.
We advise you to not jump the fence. It has occurred on many separate occasions, and can be extremely dangerous, especially in the winter time when there is black ice surrounding the gate that is not visible by people trying to jump the fence, or at night time, when visibility is extremely low.
Lastly, it is important that as a community, everyone sticks together to support one and other. The best advice to give would be to use the gate as much as possible, and respect the properties in the area. If people are using the gate respectively with no complaints, then Gallant may decide to keep it open. In the end, the gate should always be readily available to the public.
This issue will not be resolved if students, community members and the City of Charlottetown do not stick together in creating a solution that works for both the students and community members who need access to the gate and Paul Gallant. It is simply unsafe to have the gate locked, because it does not stop people from using the pathway, which leads to jumping the gate. This can also be extremely dangerous during the winter months because people may jump the fence regardless of the weather, and this could lead to extreme injury, and as previously mentioned, could come with a hefty fine. Adding 30 plus minutes to one's route to school is very frustrating for students and community members living on Queen Street because there is an easily accessible pathway that is created for them entering through Browns Court, that they should be readily available for community usage. Ultimately, having the gateway available to students really is the gateway to accessible education.
Use the gate, before it's too late!
The City of Charlottetown. E-mail Interview. 2 Nov. 2016.
Martin, Emma. Personal interview. 4 November. 2016.
News, CBC. "Gate to Popular Path Once Again Open: Charlottetown Will Be Gatekeeper - Prince Edward Island - CBC News." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
Stewart, Dave. "Controversial Fence Gate Still Open at Charlottetown's Browns Court." The Guardian. N.p., 18 Oct. 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
Stewart, Dave. "The 'war of the Gate' Erupts Once Again." The Guardian. N.p., 8 Oct. 2016. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.
Know Trespassing. 1st ed. Charlottetown: Community Legal Information Association of PEI Inc, 2016. Web. 1 Dec. 2016.