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

A new fix for potholes(?), the Mayor vows to share his musical moment in solidarity with RPM-ers, Christmas Tree Farms, and more

PROCLAMATIONS:  

Mayor Vows to Share His Own Musical Moment in Solidarity with RPM-ers

Unpossible NL and the City of St John’s officially proclaimed the month of February 2017 as the tenth Anniversary of the RPM Challenge, an international challenge to write and record a full album in one month that has been fully embraced in St john’s.

In solidarity with those who give it a shot without benefit of a musical background, or proven talent, Mayor O’Keefe divulged that he had once written a song, “The Gas Man Can” and performed it live to piano accompaniment, dressed in a homemade gas pump costume, at Mile One to a standing ovation.

He has promised to find the DVD and share it with us. I am not making this up. I am very excited. Putting your homemade efforts out there is truly in the RPM spirit. Check back next week for updates on the hunt for this most excellent DVD.

A compilation of previous RPMs will be playing at The Loop in Bannerman Park each Saturday this month. Which means you may get to hear the punk song I wrote in 2013 featuring my 6 month old daughter screaming at the top of her lungs.

White Cane week is February 5-11

“The white cane used by the visually impaired is a sign of independence, not dependence.”

Eating Disorder Awareness week is Feb 1-7

Cllr. O’Leary stood to say this particular “manifestation of metal health issues,” was important to her on a personal level as “many young women, [her]self included” were affected by it when she was in high school.

PUBLIC MEETINGS: A Shoppers (still) for the People

The Shoppers on Freshwater at Empire is being redeveloped, into a bigger better Shoppers. To this end, the council is re-zoning an extra parcel of land connected to the current lot from high density residential to commercial.

Buildings on one lot will be demolished for parking. One of which was a barbershop back in the day, Galgay says, where his father started his career. But the current residents in the area, Galgay’s constituents, have been telling Galgay that their priorities are groceries and access to their physicians.

Everyone on council vocally agreed with Cllr. Hann’s statements that keeping this Shoppers on that site is well in line with “our philosophy in the new [Envision St. John’s] city plan for [complete] neighbourhoods” and walkability. With a gas station, a few fast food spots, and the new community centre/Farmer’s Market location at the old bus barn coming in 2018, that end of Rabbittown does seem to be edging towards “complete.”

Lest we get too starry-eyed, one neighbour did express concerns about potential for rodents during demolition.

DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE:

Farm What Your Momma Gave Ye

The following were all approved:

  • a ~7 metre set back for a front porch extension at 23 Eastview Crescent;
  • crown lease for agricultural use at 521 Northern Pond rd and at 529 Power’s Rd.
  • a crown land lease for a Christmas tree farm along the Trans Canada Highway. Which might be the most genius NL business idea yet, as all you’d need for start up is a sign and a saw.

ROUND-UP:

Sole Applicant Lands the Downtown Advisory Gig

Cllr. Lane’s Downtown Advisory Committee has appointed one Lloyd Nash to its ranks. Along with being in the right age range for the particular appointment, he was the only applicant. The rush to participate in our local democratic institutions staggers.

City Moved to Write a Letter to Our, and Quebec’s Immigrant Community

Cllr. Hann moved that the city write a letter to the residents of Quebec City, and also to St John’s, assuring members of the immigrant community that they are welcome in our city, our province, and our country. Hann stated that “they have the full support of this city and this council. They work and start businesses and share their heritage. I think we have one of the most vibrant multicultural cities in the country. We are a welcoming city. We should assure the multicultural community that they are appreciated…We have already lowered the flags to half mast and we will do everything to make sure they are safe.”

I wont lie. I teared right up. Thanks Hann for being the beauty in a beastly week.

Brier Details to Follow

Cllr. Hickman says the Brier is a full event. But some tickets will still be released to individual nights. Information on transportation to the events downtown will be released soon.

A New Fix for Potholes?

Cllr. Puddister wants to know if the city still operates the asphalt plant at Robinhood Bay, as he had heard the city was using some other material for potholes. Staff responded that they have been testing a new material that is supposed to be able to set up in water so it can be used when the potholes are puddles. Which is most of the time here. The asphalt plant is still running but asphalt cannot be used in water-filled potholes. Puddister asked for a full report on how the new material is working at the next committee meeting.

Galgay Asked for city to Fly Labrador Flag

Cllr. Galgay gave notice of motion to ask that the Labrador flag be permanently flown over city hall “in recognition of our mutually beneficial friendship.” He had discussed this at the Northern Exposure conference last week. The flag in question is not an official flag recognized by the Canadian government, but more of a banner, and is currently flown in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and also in the town of St. Anthony.

The City Manager explained that as it does not have the standing of an official city, provincial, or federal flag, it will be flown to the right of those other three.

Cllr. O’Leary followed up asking staff where they were on codifying the protocol process for what flags can be raised. The City Clerk said they were checking other municipalities’ protocols to take them into account and would have a report for council within a few months. Is O’Leary hoping to clear a path for our own pink white and green “banner”? Because that would be deadly.

Illegal Signs, and Empty Loblaws Investigated

Cllr. O’Leary also asked again about the City’s response to illegally posted signs around town, especially in Kenmount Terrance where a lot of people are calling to complain. Deputy City Manager Sinyard said that public works staff remove signs on poles and ask property owners to remove illegally posted signs on private property. He said this is ongoing work through the winter and they are open to hearing about “specific areas of interest.” To which Cllr. O’Leary, an avid art photographer responded, “I will start taking my pictures!”

Never one to shirk duty (or speaking of those duties at each council meeting), Cllr. O’Leary went on to express some frustration with her communications with Loblaw’s regarding their vacant property in Churchill Square. O’Leary had made significant efforts to forge a relationship with the company and open communication when she joined the council one year ago. But she admits that has now “stalled” with a total communication “blackout” from Loblaw’s. She is still waiting on an environmental report they were supposed to be doing to assess that property.

Miscellany

Cllr. Tilley noted the passing of Ches Penney and described him as, “a man of few words, always there to do things for Newfoundland.”

Mayor O’Keefe read out a beautiful message sent from the HMCS St. John’s which, at 0500 on Jan 29th, 2017 was shipping out through The Dardanelles as the message broadcast. It was about the Newfoundlanders who fought in Gallipoli over 100 years ago and also waxed seriously poetic about the sun and the ocean.

Cllr. Puddister then asked Doc if he remembered that time when [former Mayor, current gadfly, re-mayoral hopeful and climate change denier] Andy Wells asked if Puddister even knew where the Dardanelles was.

O’Keefe, ending on a mic drop, “I remember that. You should ask him if he knows what climate change is.”

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