The meeting started off with a stunningly beautiful émigré in a beaver fur hat and street-salted boots stomping up to the public seats cursing under her breathe and shooting adrenaline out her nostrils like a spooked bull who had just been picadored and made to walk six blocks down the middle of busy streets at rush hour under a gorgeous sunset slipping in front of speeding automobiles the whole way to city hall (except for the very last block right in front of City Hall which was the only one cleared the whole way down from Georgestown).

Let me be clear. I had no actual lance in my neck, and the sidewalks were not only not cleared, they were, as usual, piled with plow-snow and plow-ice at each corner and at times along whole blocks so that no human could, even if motivated, clear (or scale) an adequate path without heavy equipment. And the sunset was pretty and highlighted small fluffy white clouds not being chased by a vulgar wind.

Which all leads to one major revelation: it was not dark as a donkey’s ass while I skiddered down to council! The days are getting longer. So winter is basically over. You’re welcome.

Things quickly got both better and worse from there. Mayor “Doc” O’Keefe was not in attendance, which means Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth ran the meeting. So the entire thing was only 30 super efficient minutes start to finish. But it was also not at all hilarious.

Proclamations (with zero speechifying or corny jokes or offering of the mayoral chair to visitors):

Thank Jesus’ mother’s cotton socks there was at least a huge novelty check, for $1000 from The Cooperators to City Hall’s charity of choice this year, the Community Food Sharing Association.

Nine Heritage Properties Designated

56 Circular Rd., 16 Leslie St., 16 and 23 Leslie St., 36 Monkstown Rd., 108 New Cove Rd., 42 Power’s Ct (the erstwhile Bookery)., 34 Queen’s Rd., 40 Rennie’s Mill Rd., 8 Riverview Ave.

Each property, apparently, requires passing a separate bylaw. Interesting, the design of this.

Cell Coverage Expanded in Waterford Valley

13 Linegar Avenue: This proposed communications tower by Bell would actually be located along the dirt road off of Linegar avenue above Pitts Memorial, between Shea Heights and Kilbride and would expand cell coverage in the Waterford Valley.

Deputy Mayor Ellsworth thanked Bell (as many times as you can possibly thank someone in a short speech) for a “well received session” that Bell gave to inform the community of Shea Heights about the project.

There is some concern that there is not currently sufficient cell coverage in Shea Heights itself, especially in the area around the school, which I can attest to because I went up around there for lunch one day and saw a bunch of students talking directly to each other while waiting for their chips.

Apparently Bell has promised to make coverage there a high priority, though the further regions out along Blackhead road will remain not high priority due to sparse population.

Committee Reports

The Nomenclature committee saw to it that Frampton Avenue will not become “Patrick and Jane’s Way,” not only because that is the most awkward street name ever, but because it was not named Frampton Avenue by accident in the first place, but in honour of a Newfoundlander who was one of 37 who died fighting in World War I, north of Beaumont Hamel in Lynchbridge. Puddister assured us his picture “was in The Rooms.”

The Development Committees’ recommendations along with all Permits, Payroll and Accounts, and Tenders were all moved and carried along in the swift moving current of the Ellsworth run meeting. Though Cllr O’Leary did ask staff to confirm that the travel expenditures for both staff and councillor has gone down, which they did, and Cllr Hann suggested a running total be added to the reports.

Update: The Big(ly) Dig 

With a recent “information note and brief presentation” brought to Council showing “trenchless” alternatives for the planned infrastructure upgrade along Water Street, and more pressure from the Downtown businesses, Council has agreed to delay the start of this project (again) until 2018.

Hopefully this will give the city enough time to find out whether these trenchless technologies (which, Ellsworth explained, do still require some tear-up) are the same ones that they tried at my father-in-law’s condo down in Florida and that succeeded at coating not only the old pipes, but every intersection into the main pipe, blocking the whole system and necessitating a complete re-do of the complex’s plumbing. I hope not. Probably not.

They would have already checked the claims of the technology they were presented, right? It won’t be another example of someone from the mainland selling us a deer alert system to warn of moose on the highway only to find, after miles of installation, that moose do not keep running across the road, but instead hulk about patiently for the flashing warnings to stop and then stand quietly waiting to kill us with their passive aggressive herbivore bulk.

Breen said some things about “stakeholders” because he needs to stay in the news (it’s election year), but didn’t go full batshit like Andy Wells or full tear-down like Galgay. Lane said some more stuff about “stakeholders” and “continued dialog” too because… downtown is his bag, if not his ward.

St. John’s is Getting a New Park! But it Will Be in Kenmount Terrace

Public drop-in meetings for the planned community park will be held on Thursday, February 9th in St Michael’s and All Angels Church on Kiwanis Street, Cllr O’Leary and city staff will be there. The proposed park has a gymnasium, community kitchen, splashpad, basketball court, trailway, and magical portal to Paradise.

The Round Up:

Both Cllr O’Leary and Deputy Mayor Ellsworth championed Bell’s “Let’s Talk” day fundraiser for mental health. Making Ellsworth’s earlier inexplicably enthusiastic praise of Bell suddenly the least sinister glad-handing in the history of corporate politics.

O’Leary, as fierce in follow-through as ever, prodded the planning department to please bring a note to the next meeting about where they are on the tree development regulations. I think I heard that right. Tree development. It sounds nice. I hope I didn’t make it up.

Cllr Tilley complimented the snow clearing staff and respectfully asked what the plan was for the next few days. The answer was basically, “Hope we can get it all done before the next storm, been going good so far.” Though, as per my intro paragraph I, also respectfully, beg to differ slightly. St John’s is where the sidewalk ends.

Cllr. Galgay asked for clarification on the policy for how the emergency services (fire and po-po) can request extra snow clearing.

Cllr. Breen warns the public that the Alt Hotel going up on Water Street, just east of Prescott, will be entering modular formation mode and so a bunch of parking around it will be taken up to unload and assemble the giant robot hotel to rule us all. This should take about a month or a month and a half, and will give people who hate things a great big object at which to shake their fists.

Cllr Lane clued council in to “Red Tape Awareness Week” and said they were “working on a series of walk-throughs and scenarios” to do “a mapping exercise” to find out what is it like to go through some processes that small business in this city must tackle.

Cllr Hickman just wants to point out that six hotels have gone up since the convention centre was proposed and that we are also about to be “blessed” by the Brier.

And that was it. Short and sweet to be back home for this huggably innocent municipal council after a week in the USA and that thing that happened there. Also, heads up: I’m writing this up at The Ship and some woman in snow pants just solved Muskrat Falls. Like Solved it. All of it. Forever. So ponder that til next week…