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

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Faster Pussycat! Build! Build! 

Rolling along at a frenetic pace, the lazy joyous days of the fall council meetings are long gone and Mayor O’Keefe has picked up some new urgency, some ruthless efficiency that will get us all home in time to spare an extra half hour for the latest episode of Riverdale.

  • In the business a’rising, Cllr. Puddister asked to defer a vote to double the maximum building height from 15 metres to 30 metres for Commercial Regional (CR) zones. This vote is brought on by an application for an office building at 25 Sea Rose Avenue off of Hebron Way. This was all brought up at the Jan 9th council meeting when they agreed to advertise for public comment. Since I was flitting about Berlin that week, I missed this and so not a soul heard about it, completely crushing hope of fair public comment. But some business owners in the area got wind somehow and did send in letters of complaint. The basic theme of which is “why didn’t we think of that? You can just ask for a city-wide regulation to be changed to fit your one building plan?! Dang it, why did we follow the stupid rules. Now we be short and they be tall.”
  • To offset the increase (which has been recommended by Staff but, as noted, will not be voted on by council until next week), there would also be an increase in the buffer zone from any residential zone to CR zone from 3 metres to 10 metres. That should do the trick.

Notices Published:
Thumbs up for Personal Care and for Personal Grooming

  • 160 Brookfield Road applied to be both a home-based hair salon and also a site for heavy equipment storage. This is literally what I wrote my Merit Scholar essay about in high school. I dreamed of one day owning a beauty parlour over my automotive and small engine repair shop. I fared about as well as this application. Hair salon, yea; heavy equipment, nay.
  • No one had objections to the expansion of a “personal home care facility” at 656 Main Road in the Goulds.

New Restaurant Locations:
We Know Where but not What … Intrigued?

(As per the building permit list and economic report)
Everyone loves a bite out, yo.

  • 207a Kenmount rd
  • 16 Stavanger Dr.
  • 310 Water St.
  • (Bonus Round: something called, god help our over-reaching souls, Bellisimo’s Bistro and Espresso Bar may be opening at the old Gracie’s Joe’s location)

Galgay Reads a Petition and a Complaint;
He Does Not Read Them like Poems or Love Letters. (But that would have been nice).

Problems with the Intersection at the Base of Signal Hill (as per the petition):

  • only one crosswalk.
  • yield sign at Temperance St is hard to see for drivers.
  • drivers gun it up signal hill

Solutions (as per the petition):

  • speed bump at foot of signal hill
  • stop sign at top of temperance st.
  • cross walks all around

Cllr Galgay says the city is looking at that intersection. But they will figure it out on their owwwnnnnnn. jeez.

A citizen who hates fun objected to the personal use of fireworks and expressed their “great concern about toxic debris and noise pollution.” Which brings to mind H.L. Mencken’s self satisfied and dismissive (but, here, apt) quote about Puritanism: “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

Downtown Sidewalks Not Paved with Gold:
Worth Only $50 Per Square Foot

350 Water Street, the Eclipse Building which houses the downtown Post Office, has asked to buy the excess sidewalk width in front of their building.

Cllr Galgay points out “the class” of the owners who (though they could possibly have tried to get grandfathered into not having a properly accessible building), will be using some of the purchased sidewalk to include a ramp as part of a proposed new facade design.

Later in the meeting, Deputy Mayor Ellsworth, in reference to the proposed community centre in Kenmount Terrace, emphasized (not for the first time) how important it is for the city to be a leader in accessible “universal design standards” rather than just following minimal requirements.

City May Not Be Paved with Gold But Maybe Not Down and Out Yet?
Except for Pitts Memorial Drive, That’s Danger Toasted
 

    • Cllr. Hickman broke out the good news economic update, which showed a big lead on last year to date for building permits. It was also pointed out (possibly by Cllr Tilley?) that while people may complain about red tape, St. John’s actually won out over the 25 next biggest municipalities provincially, and scored a 95% for access to information, customer service, and overall regulatory framework. The “next biggest” municipalities in Newfoundland? That is like grading an apple amongst oranges on curve.
    • Many Councillors commented positively on the news that our immigrant population may double in the next two decades. For a province that struggles with population decline, immigration is a bright hope.
    • Or as Mayor O’Keefe puts it:

“I met a man from South Sudan
He said he’d been here 19 years.
He said “the people are so friendly
and he “didn’t mind the snow.”

See Galgay. Would it be so hard to just put a little cadence in it?

    • O’Keefe also upped the word play notch railing against the “pitted” state of Pitts Memorial and took the Province firmly to task for the lights being out on large stretches from New Gower to Kilbride. Since it looks like it’s heading towards a game of “tag you’re it” between NL Power and NL for who will fix the lights, let’s please everyone drive safe! Yer a miserable bunch of bastards, but that highway is actually a menace and I like miserable bastards so please don’t get hurt out there.

Grants Approved

The City has approved over one and a quarter million dollars in grants for community groups ($810,000), Sports Groups ($168,900), Artists and Art Organizations ($203,000) and special event and festivals ($92,500).

Additional funds were freed up as the “home share” program was not moving forward, and 25,000 in funds for that program was returned to the city. Some of the extra money will go to the School Lunch Association.

A Smattering of Councillor’s Speeches from the Round-up
Summarized in 10 Words or Less, More or Less

Cllr O’Leary:  Metrobus must be affordable.

Cllr Galgay: Slide under fancy lights in Victoria park! You’re welcome.

Cllr. Breen:  Stavanger area Traffic Study will out, Costco or no.

Cllr. Puddister: But seriously, no tickets at broken metres, right? [right]

Cllr Hickmania: The Brier! The Brier will haz shuttle bus.

Cllr. Hann: Prism! Where is that external independent legal recommendation on the omnibus ethics legislation by the honourable Clyde Wells?!

Deputy Mayor Ellsworth: Chillfest

Doc: Pitts Memorial Drive is “the road to Borneo”

About Author

Emily Deming

Emily Deming is involved in a love affair with St John’s so deep it extends to attending plays, poetry readings, and dance festivals.