Notes from the Rafters: This Week’s City Council Meeting Recap

City Council

Proclamations

The city is marking Canada Games Week this October. The Canada Summer Games were held in Newfoundland in 1977. The 2019 Canada Winter Games will be held in Alberta. Cllr Hickman used to play volleyball, but not in The Games; in The Games he played Lacrosse in 1973. Mayor Dan Breen is very happy and sort of beaming like a proud dad about Cllr Hickman as volleyball player and brought it up twice. Cllr Korab never made it to The Games but will be raising the flag for Game Week this month even though the games are not actually held here or anywhere near October. 

Someone brought a baby in for World Breastfeeding Week and everyone (myself included) lost their minds at how cute the baby was, and I can tell you nothing about World Breastfeeding Week because we were all too busy audibly “awwww”ing to pay attention. The Mayor, who was in a contagiously good mood this week, was talking to the baby, and got to hold her and was, if possible, even more chuffed at holding the baby than he was at knowing Hickman was a master volleyballer. It was a seriously adorable baby.

The City will celebrate Seniors Week this week. And apparently we have an “age friendly city” and a “true intergenerational city.” I would agree with the last statement 100%. I was in Toronto last weekend, and noticed the social scene was divided along hard age lines. The unspoken rule at the bars was like, “Dance with your own decadals, oldie.” But here we all shop and gossip and drink and dance and complain about snow clearing and traffic across generational lines. And that is nice.

The newly minted deputy fire chief says the top three causes of fires in houses are “cooking, eating, and electrical.” I get “cooking” and “electrical” but how are ya’ll causing fires by “eating?” Are these all flambé mishaps?

It is the annual Metrobus and VOCM Cares Thanksgiving Food Drive Week. Buses and grocery stores are fitted with food collection boxes.

Uncontentious Re-Zoning and Persnickety Development Requests: #democracy

Rezoning in Quidi Vidi Happening without the Usual Controversy

The land at 30 and 36 Barrows Rd in Quidi Vidi will be re-zoned from Open Space to Residential Medium Density to allow two new single, detached dwellings to be built. This was already approved over the summer, but council now has to amend the Regional Plan and the Municipal Plan to allow it. This development is remarkable in that there are no controversies swirling around it or antagonistic neighbours rallying against it.

Some neighbours used the hearings to re-iterate that the character of the village is important and should remain in tact. People also mentioned that there are ongoing traffic concerns, but no one thought this particular development would exacerbate either issue. The owner is proposing two salt box dwellings and everyone agrees they will go with the “architectural vernacular” of the area. Only the land abutting the street needed for the houses is being re-zoned. The land behind will remain Open Space. No one behaved badly

390 East White Hills Road Will Be a “Light Industrial Facility” for the “Production, Refinement, and Sale of Cannabis Products.”

There will be ~235 people on site at any one time, and they are requesting approval for 308 parking spaces. Cllr. Froude asks why council would require 308 spaces if there would only be ~235 people on site, and is concerned that voting on this would “require” there be 308 parking spaces on that site, and therefore constrain potential future development.

Staff explains that the developer is “requesting” 308, as opposed to council “requiring” 308. And that all they need to do in the future is come back to council and ask for “parking relief” if there is future development. All parking requirements for “light industrial” areas are determined on a  case-by-case basis by council.

This highlights a much yelled-about-online feature of our city council. People get mad when council allegedly ignores or amends “the rules.” But they yell equally when the city is inflexible. It  sounds nice to have a process so graceful that it allows for no shenanigans, but still supports ever evolving entrepreneurship.

But likely that hazy ideal is too graceful for us messy humans and this messy “democracy” so, while things can always get better, I would bet all of your money that the best council process will always be somewhat piecemeal. And, honestly, folks would complain that councillors weren’t “doing enough” if the rules were perfect and never needed meddling. So let’s keep paying attention, keep fixing/renovating this old shed we all share, and try not to take anything personally while we argue.

7 Shea Street Will be Allowed a 5.07 Metre Building Set-back

It’s for an attached garage as that is in line with the adjacent property. Cllr Burton explains that these set-backs (which seem like a tiddly thing) come to council each time because they can have a big effect on a neighbourhood overall in terms of “walkability and pedestrian experience” among “other things.”

Collaboration: good

Graduate student research from a steering committee formed in November 2015 (using grants from Memorial University’s Harris Centre and from Public Safety Canada) to investigate our Regional Emergency Management Model concluded that

  • Collaboration is good
  • We do collaborate in some ways (tactically)
  • We could collaborate more in other ways (strategically)
  • We should collaborate more extensively (with NGOs)
  • Meetings help collaboration
  • Collaboration is good in other places too.

Tenders: Vehicular Replacements

Cllr Froude made a point to go over each of the various tenders individually. Cllr Hickman wondered why they couldn’t do it (or at least vote on it? It is always hard to hear Hickman) all at once, but Mayor Dan agreed that it is “good for the pubic to hear what [they] are voting on” and pointed out they have the time.

To see all details of all tenders for yourself, check the last few pages of the agenda here.

TL;DR City is upgrading pumps and buying chemicals for Windsor Lake, buying “cutting edges” for vehicles, and buying many vehicles in a “spend money to save money” maneuver.

Cllr Froude admitted that 16 is a lot of vehicles to buy all at once, and so he went over each purchase, in detail, with the city staff.

He explained that many of the vehicles being replaced are used in emergency situations (water main breaks etc), and are between 8 and 10 years old. He further explained that costs rise for the city if paid crews have to “sit around and wait” for vehicles if/when they break down or need maintenance. Usually the city “piggy backs” their vehicle purchases on the larger provincial purchases, but for some reason that did not happen this year so the city had to “go on [their] own.”

Deputy Mayor O’Leary asks what happens to the older vehicles, and Cllr Froude says they are sold at auction to get some revenue out of them.

SJ <3 Cruises

The city will pay for Cllr Hanlon to attend the annual Seatrade Cruise Global Conference in Miami this spring. Poor Doc. They should just let him have it and send him even though he is retired.

Go-Round Highlights:

Deputy Mayor O’Leary refers to Gander as “The Welcoming town of Gander.” Which I’m guessing we are all mandated to do now since Come From Away. Although in my heart it will still be “Oh-shit-the-only-restaurant-is-closed-today-keep-driving-through the town of Gander.” 

This says so much more about the state of media than about our city council. Can anyone call a media outlet and say whatever they want, no matter how potentially one-sided or self serving, and have it published without contextual research, basic fact-checking, or further interviews of any organizations (city or private) alluded to?

Cllr Burton clarified that Salon “G” on Le Marchant Road (where Formosa Tea House was before it moved over a block) was not told to take down its sign, just that the new signage would be referred to the Built Heritage Experts Panel, and then to the Committee of the Whole for council to discuss. She also said the building itself was not a heritage building (as had been reported by CBC) but was, rather, “located in a heritage area.”

This says so much more about the state of media than about our city council. Can anyone call a media outlet and say whatever they want, no matter how potentially one-sided or self serving, and have it published without contextual research, basic fact-checking, or further interviews of any organizations (city or private) alluded to? That is a rhetorical question. Obvs they can. 

Burton also says Jeopardy will have its first contestant this week from this island province.

What is Newfoundland?

Written By
More from Emily Deming

Notes from the Rafters: This Week’s St. John’s City Council Meeting Recap

Councillors agree to slow down the progressive tackling of age-old traffic issues...
Read More

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.