City Shuts Downs Talks of Closing Bars at 1 a.m.

While talks of closing bars earlier appealed to many people in town, the notion that it would end late night violence was ultimately shot down. As Councillor Breen said, “I don’t know if [closing bars at 1] is going to make a big difference to the crime aspects.” They’ve turned their focus to ensuring a quick and safe dispersal of people at 3 am when all bars close. This might include closing the west end of George Street off to traffic from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m, so cabs can’t park there — they’d instead be moved to queues along Water and New Gower. They are also considering moving food trucks and other food vendors away from George Street.

Net Metering Coming to the Province

In a nutshell, net metering lets homeowners and businesses install things like solar panels or windmills to their property to offset the amount of energy they draw from province’s power grid. It reduces demand from the power grid, saves consumers a little money off their power bills (since they’re using less power), and is of course a green thing to do. If, say, in the summer months, your solar panels produce more energy than you use, you can bank that surplus of energy as credit for the months you need power from the province’s energy grid. Help from municipal governments will be provided in connecting such devices to your home, should you choose to pursue this. You may not install anything quite yet though.

St. John’s Going Automated for Garbage Collection Despite Mayor’s Opposition

Starting next fall, the city will roll out its automated garbage collection plan for the City of St. John’s. Every house will be given a specially designed garbage bin, which garbage trucks can pick up with a robot arm. The new bins will be on wheels so you can roll them out to the curb. Most cities are doing this now. Councillor Jonathan Galgay says, “The carts will reduce litter, rodent, and pest problems on our streets, and eliminate the need for garbage nets and blankets.” With the current garbage trucks aging and in need of replacement, council felt that now was the time to move towards mechanical garbage collection. The cost for the upgrade to automated garbage is approximately $6 million. Residents will not have to pay for these new garbage carts. The decision was unanimous, with one notable critic: Mayor Doc O’keefe was behind the idea. He’d rather not put the money in garbage, so to speak. Automated garbage pickup won’t be logistically possible for the downtown area.

Lead in the Water at MUN Shut Down University

“Higher than acceptable” levels of lead were found in MUN’s water supply this week, and no one is quite sure how long it’s been a problem. Lead poisoning can cause mental impairment, in addition to miscarriage, illness, pain, and other complications. However, Dr. David Allison, chief medical officer of health for the province, said “I would not expect to see any symptoms or signs.” The university closed all buildings on July 31st. The real news here is that City of St. John’s’ “regular testing” clearly doesn‘t seem to have picked this up – luckily MUN does their own periodic testing, and picked up on these high lead levels themselves. A lab is now analyzing water samples for 50 buildings at MUN, and the campus is reopened with retrofitted plumbing to deal with the water issues and/or designated supplies of bottled water for faculty, staff, students and visitors.

Young NL Woman Dies in Nova Scotia Prison

22 year old Camille Strickland-Murphy died at Nova Institution for Women last Tuesday. She was serving three years for the armed robbery of a pharmacy + robbing a woman outside a bank at knifepoint. These were her first brushes with the law, and were motivated by her addictions. Camille got hooked on drugs by self-medicating for her anxiety disorder after our mental health care system let her down. Because there are no mental health services in Clarenville’s correctional facility for women, she asked for a federal sentencing off the island so she could receive help for her mental health and addiction issues. Prison staff found her dead in her cell on Tuesday, and police are investigating (it’s the second time this year a Newfoundlander died in that prison).

Snake Found in the Southlands

While it’s generally thought we don’t have snakes on the island, occasionally a snake will find its way here in, say, a bail of hay. Scientists have found a pregnant garter snake on the west coast, for example. This week, according to Mitch Adams of the Newfoundland and Labrador Herpetological Society, it was a corn snake. Adams figures it was an escaped or released pet snake. It was spotted by a construction crew in The Southlands, who  helped it cross the road, as well as two young women who filmed their encounter with the snake: one of them fearlessly picked up the snake. The snake died after sustaining injuries from being runover.

Nickel Film Festival Defrauded of Five Grand by One of Its Own

Former festival director Janelle Hickey has been charged with defrauding the festival of $5,000. The charges date back a couple of years, as Melissa Carerra has been executive director for the last 2 years.

Local Activist to Speak at Truth to Power Canada Project

Speak Truth To Power was born out of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. It is described as a “a multi-faceted global initiative that uses the experiences of courageous defenders of human rights from around the world to educate students and urge them to take action.” Remzi Cej and his family emigrated to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2000, to flee the war in Kosovo. He has since been awarded the YMCA Peace Medal for Human Rights Education and the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award. Cej will be one of 12 Canadians in the Speak Truth to Power Canada Project this fall, targeting students in Grades 5 to 12. Speakers will tell their stories as Canadians who actively participate in human rights work. Cej is a Rhodes Scholar and the chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission.

Province Has Put 47 Popular Parks & Beaches Up for Private Sale

Middle Cove Beach, Northern Bay Sands, and Topsail Beach are but 3 of the 47 spaces now up for sale. Since the mid-90s, many of these places – like Cochrane Pond and Bellevue Beach – have been privately run, but the lands were leased from the provincial government. Government is now offering the option of outright buying these spaces, touting it as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to turn these spaces into something great for tourism/locals, such as “RV parks, resorts, cottage rentals or development of tourism attractions.” But that’s not how NDP Environment and Conservation critic George Murphy sees things. He calls it a “reckless sell-off of our natural heritage” and a “short-sighted cash grab that endangers dozens of unique ecological sites.”

Coffee & Company to Close after a 16-year Run

Here’s the announcement from Facebook, verbatim. “We have been serving up what I truly believe to be the best coffee I have ever tasted for the past 16 years. We have done this with a fantastic group of dedicated people and many lifelong friendships have formed along the way. We wanted to thank all of our customers firstly for their friendship and secondly for their business. We have truly enjoyed serving you!”

Thieves Steal an Empty ATM

Terry Hutchings says he empties his ATM every night, and leaves its door opened so people can see it’s empty. And yet, two men still broken into The Hutch on the Irish Loop this week, and made off with the empty ATM.

Prominent St. John’s Lawyers, Gruchy & Buckingham Seeking NDP Nominations

Mark Gruchy  is seeking the NDP nomination in Cape St. Francis, and Bob Buckingham is seeking the nomination in the district of Virginia Waters-Pleasantville, to be candidates for this year’s provincial election in November. Buckingham acted as campaign manager for Earle McCurdy’s successful NDP leadership race this year. Gruchy is well known as an advocate for better mental health representation in prisons and the community at large. He’s also president of the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Labrador’s Mealy Mountains Officially Crowned Canada’s 46th National Park

(Headline sort of covers it all.)

Gemma Hickey Completes Fundraising/Awareness Cross-island “Hope Walk”

An unimaginably long walk came to an end today for local activist and founder of Pathways. Gemma Hickey. Gemma walked 900 kilometres in 32 consecutive days, which fittingly ended at the former site of the Mt. Cashel orphanage. Hickey founded The Pathways Foundation to better help survivors of clergy abuse, and her recent “Hope Walk” was  fundraiser and awareness campaign for the foundation.