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

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Proclamations

I have yet to see a meeting with 2 or more proclamations where Mayor “Doc” O’Keefe hasn’t recognized at least one person in attendance as a former “pupil.” Make note teachers, today’s students are tomorrow’s voters.

Notices Published: “Savoury” Packaging Across from Victoria Park

  • 180 Hamilton Avenue has submitted a “Change of Non-Conforming Use” application to change this small garage-like building from its previous use of “Professional Apparel” to that of “packaging savoury.” There would be one employee working 4-12 hours per week. If “Packaging Savoury” is not a euphemism, and if this is not a Ricky-Julian-Bubbles scheme, I will be sorely disappointed.
  • Planning and Development recommended approval but Cllr. Galgay requested this be deferred a week before they vote on it. No one objected. This is a property across from Victoria Park, whose re-vitalization Galgay has been all up in.

Public Hearings … Were Heard!

  • A re-zoning application for a proposed 6-storey apartment building at 16 Francis St, right on the St. Johns – Mt. Pearl border, has been withdrawn after “significant public opposition” was shown at the public meeting last month. Chaired by Cllr. Collins, it was suggested at the meeting that perhaps two 3-story buildings could work but “no way” 6 stories was okay.
  • The veritable slew of letters/emails that the city received voicing disapproval was impressive. Though best of all were the multiple letters from residents who had spent so much time “selecting the perfect place” when they decided to “move back to St. John’s” from either Paradise or Mt Pearl. Moving to Brookfield Plains is to moving into St John’s as sticking your toe in the pond and shuddering is to going for a swim.

Permits, Tenders, and $$$

  • Two commercial “Lodging House” permits have been issued to 1, and 5 Barrows road. Mallard Cottage Inn is in!
  • Weekly payment vouchers show the city paid over $330,000 for road salt. Is that for the year? Wow. Salt is not cheap. And our hills are cold and steep.
  • Telus was awarded a three year contract worth almost $400,000 for city’s “mobile wireless devices and data services”
  • I’m always looking through the payment vouchers to find the awesome clue to some Grisham-esque scandal or convoluted shake-down. But all I do is go, “whoaaaa we paid $101,500 to the Carpet Factory Superstore?!” and then get dreamy-eyed about what those carpets must look like and where they might be and if maybe I need new carpets and what I would get if I was to spend 100 grand on flooring. But if anyone wants to dig deeper and ask the hardwood questions… the mysteries really are all published for you to peruse each week. get active, follow the money. It’s always the money that’s the motive.
  • Did you know it will cost 1.3 million dollars to replace the signal hill water main? It will! according to the tender results. There is SO MUCH information in the council agenda each week. I don’t cover it all. The more you know (that you don’t know)!

Pie in the Sky and Electric Buses on the Road

  • Cllr Collins admits he “didn’t read” the “Pan-Canadian Harmonization of Electric Bus Charging Technology” and, frankly, we don’t blame him. I think we all got enough sexy optimistic Scifi during our Heinlein phase in high school. But it is, apparently, a real thing that we have just adopted. It is also about as free of impact as the “harmonized e-bus” is of emissions. It does not mean any spending, or any actual promises (as aptly clarified by Cllr. no-money-no-mo-Puddister), just a smile and nod to a federal program that says we are all on the same page for wishing the technology was effective and cheap enough for municipal use.

Go-round:

• Cllr. Collins: Ooops. I had that bus thing on my notes here.

• Cllr O’Leary: Wednesday March 8th is International Women’s Day. O’Leary, the only woman on the council, stands to explain the need for this day as “these are chaotic times where women are losing rights around the world.” All the while she is talking, Cllrs. Galgay and Breen carry on a steady tete-a-tete and Cllr. Tilley leans back and talks loudly to someone behind him. Soooo I don’t have to explain this, right? Last week it was Andy Wells, this week it is members of council. Hush now, boys!

• Cllr. Tilley: [shakes head… guess he got everything off his chest during O’leary’s go]

• Cllr. Lane: Speaking of International Women’s Day…This Wednesday at 7 pm, event for women entrepreneurs in the MUN engineering building.

Cllr Hickman: You knows he is going to say it …. “Brier!” We were hoping to sell 300 Metrobus Brier Passes but we sold 500! They are still available for $30 for next weekend.

  • Johnson Insurance re-signed their lease on the Johnson building, from 2020-2030, “which shows their commitment to Downtown” [or shows that they are running alien experiments in the building’s basement labs and they don’t want to disrupt the pods before completion. Lots of ways to interpret a re-signed lease.]
  • Doc: Don’t forget Fortis! They, too are committed to downtown St. Johns [completely altruistically].

 Deputy Mayor Ellsworth: March 12th there is Sledge Hockey at The Loop

Mayor O’Keefe: People always ask, “Why did we invest money in things like the Brier and the Convention centre?” The answer is, because it brings thousands of people here resulting in 15 million dollars for the city, and images of our city/culture/view-planes on television beamed out to the nation that money can’t buy!

[The real question is, where did that figure of 15 million come from? I will be interested to see how it compares with the data collected from Cllr. Breen’s surveys being done this week to gather real data on the money brought in by visiting curling enthusiasts]

Doc then adds fine words for the St John’s Volunteer Fire Dept. Honour Guard who “stole the [opening ceremonies] show in their resplendent uniforms.” Which is really a pat on his own back and that of council for their “revitalized commitment” to that honour guard a few months back.

annnnnd….. “Adjourned! We did it in an hour and a half and two minutes!”

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