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

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Candidates Coming out of the Rafters: Peter McDonald Ward 4

Well, the glad-handing sharks are circling the council. Elections are coming in the fall and citizens from both in and outside the current pool are watching for blood in the water, with big smiles and, we presume, good intentions.

Today I met Peter McDonald up in the rafters. Current principal of Beaconsfield Jr High (Brother Rice before that) and future candidate for Ward 4. He said he has been attending meetings (3-4 so far) to get a feel for the job.

This island has a long history of choosing school teachers for leaders, for better or worse. As I observed last week, it certainly lends itself to a ready voter base.

I know little about Candidate McDonald other than that he was engaged and friendly and isn’t ashamed to whisper in the back of the class. He also says he has been partnering with the city for 5-6 years now at both Brother Rice and Beaconsfield on the “Grade 9 Leaving Ceremony” which has eschewed the formal dance and is now a more egalitarian event with “sweatpants” and “sumo wrestling.” I can dig it.

I can also dig through my old emails. And I confirmed he was the principal at Brother Rice to whom I wrote a “grumpy old man” email in 2014. I asked him to find two youngsters (I sent photos) I believed were in his school and give them “a good talking to” for bullying some very young kids in my back alley and also urinating on the neighbours’ condo.

Yes. I am a grown-up, of the nosey, fist-shaking varietal. If I had a bumpersticker it would read: I yell at ruffians. Sadly, Principal McDonald never wrote back. However many gadfly emails he gets as a principal, it is nothing compared to how many he will get as a ward councillor. Godspeed Principal Peter!

Running for Council? Come on Down!

  • Come to Happy City’s Municipal election forum on April 1st.
  • Come sit with me any given Monday from 4:30 to question mark (like a terrible party, the meetings don’t end til “?”). Introduce yourself and we can eat figurative popcorn and watch the show together. If you have anything to say after, I am all ears and typing fingers. If not, I’m chuffed to sit in companionable silence through my favourite weekly sport.

Proclamation No Racists 

This is an Ellsworth-run meeting so it’s going to be efficient (but lacking in hokey good times)

  • March 21, 2017 is Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day. Though I don’t know why it wasn’t scheduled sooner, like before November 9, 2016, I suppose it is better late than never.
  • There is a related event at The Rooms on Sunday, March 19th

Committee Reports: 

  1. Mild Variance 

– 17 Winter Place was granted a variance to let a new lot be born that is 708 square meters as opposed to the normally required 740.

– 79 Petty Harbour Rd was granted a variance for a shortened frontage to be able to subdivide the lot. This is an area with water and run-off flooding concerns and the variance is granted with the requirement that the owner not excavate into the embankment on the property. Collins had his Brandenburg Gate moment as he channeled Reagan in reverse, “Don’t dig into this wall!”

  1. Unchill Traffic 

“Letters regarding proposed traffic calming” is my vote for a Brian Eno retrospective at Sound Symposium, and also what is on the mind of the Police and Traffic Committee.

  • “Temporary cushions” are the most prolifically proposed of the calmings, and for my 40th birthday, I want visual and performance artist Andrea Cooper to dress all in white and film herself drinking until she passes out on a “temporary cushion on Carnell Drive.” Calm is the new cool.

Quidi Vidi is not getting easier to unsnarl. Council proposes a left hand turn restriction from East White Hills onto The Boulevard to prohibit access to Quidi Vidi at peak times. In the future, they may upgrade the road right to the footbridge.

  • Making the whole road through QV one way permanently is also being tossed around, though Cllr Puddister points out the residents are always divided on this 50-50 so it would be hard to pass.
  • Cllr Hann also brought up possibly having extra parking for busses outside the village with restrictions on them entering. He suggested people could walk into the village and maybe even “enjoy it more.” Council is asking for more information on bussed tourist statistics to mull this all over.
  • Cllr Puddister wants more parking in the village. Because more parking has been shown to fix fundamental traffic issues (in opposite research land).

Digital Feedback Signs (showing driver’s speed) were recommended at 20 elementary school zone locations in 2015. 7 schools have received them so far. They cost $30,000 to install but are intended as permanent structures.

Cllr Galgay wants city staff to undertake a parking study for a few blocks on Patrick Street, even though this issue was previously resolved with a 2-hr limit placed on some parking on the east side of the street.

  • Cllr Puddister says he stood on the street and it looks fine.
  • Ellsworth says it will be “put in the queue” for city staff to do the parking study but it will not supercede any work already being done or waiting.
  • Cllr Galgay graciously sums up the gravity of the situation by wingeing, “two of my constituents had visitors who got parking tickets. I’m the one getting the calls!” Truly we bleed for thee and they.
  1. Special Events: Run Don’t Drive 

Road Closures:

  • April 9th around Stavanger for Boston Pizza “Flat Out 5k.”
  • May 14th Southside Road to Harbour Drive for Harbour Front 10k.

Permits: The Heritage Home is Dead! Long Live the … New Home? 

  • A building permit for “Reconstruction of Dwelling” has been approved for 25 Winter Ave, the site of the demolition of Quinnipiac.
  • Artisan Pizza at 280 Water St, the store front that has been hanging around teasing us all, has now gotten its commercial permit.
  • 187-189 Water Street is getting a new facade. But can it wipe clean the curse of the ever failed restaurants? (It’s last tenant was Woody’s BBQ).

Economic Update: Comme Ci, Comme Ҫa

  • Cllr Lane says, given how bad some people thought it would be, it’s pretty good.
  • Population increased in metro and greater metro area of St. John’s, which accounts for the increase in the participation in the labour market despite the small rise in the unemployment rate.
  • Housing price index is only down a smidge … (wait for it)
  • Stat oil plans on drilling exploration wells this year in Flemish Pass. Though all the councillors agree that The Brier showed us Tourism is our stock in trade, not that fickle oil-man, man.

I will sum up the Go-round in three words:
Team Gushue! Wind!

Cllr Breen will be acting Mayor for a short time, while Mayor O’Keefe is away on the good ship cruise-conference and Ellsworth has a short medical leave.

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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.

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