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

Is that a first: we're roughly on track with the snowclearing budget?

Proclamations: Doc Waxes Rhapsodic about the Epilepsy of a Bygone Era,
and Then There was Poetry

    • Mayor O’Keefe’s remembrance moment came early this meeting. During the first proclamation,Gina Hartmann from Epilepsy NL (and blog tint of ink) was on hand to promote March 24th (aka Purple Day), a day of awareness for Epilepsy, and Doc says, “I remember my first encounter with epilepsy … It was grade 4 at St Bons …. I can recall the chaos that day… the teacher eventually stuck an eraser into the child’s mouth.”
    • Hartmann nods, remains poised, “and that’s the stigma we are still working with today.”
    • March 21 is World Poetry Day. Michelle Porter, president of the Writers’ Alliance of NL (WANL), and St. John’s Poet Laureate and resident hip ginger, George Murray, were on hand to bring the poetry to the people.
    • Porter gave a shout out to last week’s Pratt Lecturer, poet Dionne Brand, who packed the LSPU hall for a lecture about poetry. She’s not even exaggerating. I was there. I counted 8 empty seats. It was intense.
    • Murray read a poem aloud. And, in honour of world poetry day, I’m including the whole dang thing here in lieu of link. Take it. Take the poetry.

Two Fish
by Julie Bruck

Say you have two goldfish, pet-store
fishlets bought for 25-cents each, carried
home in a plastic bag and nurtured for years.
Let’s say you clean the tank, place each fish
in its own half-filled Mason jar, each
a bit small for large fish, but adequate
for the short time it should take to balance
the tanks pH. Suppose you put the jars on a very
high shelf, then forget theyre there for months,
until most of the water has evaporated, until
whats left of the fish-shapes surrenders
to the dictates of the jars, becoming two squat
cyphers of twisted life. Lets say thats how
you find them, your heart swelling with shame,
and quickly, with shaking hands, pour them
back into the tank. Which is more alarming?
The fish who sinks to the bottom, distorted
as in a funhouse mirror, one eye bulging
to the size of its chest, fins extruding
from the wrong places, who squats there
staring out, steady as a barrel? Or the one
who reconstitutes itself as a sponge takes
on tap water, who swims off briskly,
picking up and dropping bits of gravel
with its fish lips, foraging with little
clicks, as it always did before? Which?
The hideously damaged one, or the one
who moves on as if this was what it meant
to be entrusted to your care? Which fish?

[TL;DR it’s about “making difficult decisions” according to Murray]

The best part of all this was the mic/audio issue that made every statement echo and reverberate in a weird lag behind us after hearing it faintly in front of us. It was like a High Leader was speaking to us, the masses, in some dystopian future stadium situation a la The Hunger Games. Awesome.

Yes to Shoppers, No to Savoury Packing

  • The Shoppers 2.0 is barrelling forward at Freshwater and Empire after no submissions were received for a public hearing. I cannot stop saying “Barrelling Forward” since I saw the cover for Eva Crocker’s newly released collection of short stories. It is really fun to say.
  • The proposed one-man Savoury packaging facility at 180 Hamilton that Cllr. Galgay postponed last week, did not fare as well. It was defeated, though staff had recommended a “yes,” when Galgay spoke out via a telecommunications device savvily placed in his regular spot (he is in Labrador this week). Blinking a small red light, the disembodied Gal-Bot said he had done his own parking study. He parked his car there last week and thought it “stuck into” the sidewalk a bit. And, though Gal-Bot insisted he “does support local business,” he computed that this area is “just not suitable.”
  • Wouldn’t want any un-savoury characters marring the potential of a rejuvenated Victoria Park area with their bumper-overhang and hippy entrepreneurial dreams.

The Audit and Accountability Committee Released the Strategic Plan Annual Report 

I highly recommend browsing this report if you’ve ever wondered, what does the city do? Not only does it have tons of info about what the city is working on, and what it is having trouble working on, it lays it all out in easy to handle candy-coloured graphics. This thing is a content generation bonanza.

Marriage Policy: An End to Cash Deals for City Hall Weddings

That’s a click bait sub-title but let me have my moment where I imagine this now-outlawed practice was as shady as a sick day in a canopy bed during a Newfoundland spring. For this, (presumably because they were voting on a practise only the mayor could benefit from?), Mayor O’Keefe put Cllr. Breen in his dog-armed chair and left the room until the discussion and vote were complete.
Basically, people used to pay the mayor directly (it would seem) for a civil ceremony at City Hall. He has the power to wed. New policy from the finance committee would make the process transparent and consistent across the board. It will now cost $200 (paid to Access SJ) and will go into the City’s “General Revenues.”
The discussion around this went on for quite some time. Though every one seemed to agree on it.

[Doc regains his rightful throne]

Development Committee:
Temporal Issue with Temperance Street Development

Gal-Bot “has an issue” with approving a one year extension on a development permit the city granted two years ago for condominiums at 32 Temperance Street.

Gal-bot pointed out that he opposed the permit 2 years ago after “speaking to [his] constituents at length.” Emphasizing his own machine like prescience, he pointed out to council that he was concerned at that time that this would not move forward. And he renewed his vow to “ask council to give no lenience. […] We have holes in the ground all over this city, particularly in the downtown.”

Gal-bot, perhaps mistaking the address for one in Aleppo, said the one year extension on the development permit , “gives false hope for residents who have endured so much already.”

Despite Gal-bots best human-like efforts, no one was swayed. As the rest of council pointed out, it is pretty routine to approve an extension if a permit has already been approved. Shit happens, even to developers; Council can empathize, even with developers.

In a particularly engaging back and forth, Cllr Tilley began, “I agree [with the other councillors], this has been done in the past. Recall back to the old fire station——”

At which time Gal-Bot loudly interjected, “BEEEEEEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP,” before Cllr. Breen could hang him up.

Tilley, regaining his gravitas, continued, “given the economy the way it is——” Gal-bot, “RINNNNNNGGGG RINGGGGGG RINNNNGG.” Tilley sits down. defeated by the mighty future of the teleconference.

The one year extension passed. But the general mood was that another extension would be unlikely with Hann suggesting that if nothing happens this year the city take a more rigorous look at the address to see why so many proposals have come in over the years and nothing has been accomplished.

Building Permits:

  • Landlord David Levine has a permit to re-build the long crumbling wall of 183 Duckworth along the War Memorial, which houses Fixed, Broken Books and Model Citizens. Model Citizens will be adding a facade upgrade.
  • 254 Water St, a “partially renovated. Fantastic investment opportunity!” according to the kijiji ad (listed as “just reduced” to $499,900) has a building permit.
  • We are roughly on track for the snow-clearing budget. Cllr Breen respectfully requested there be no more snow, please.

The Go-Round, Abbreviated Version:

We should market the hell out of NL as a tourist destination while Come From Away is still a broadway smash hit.

  • Downtown is pretty clean but needs trees and green space. … because tourism!
  • How about a dog park off McNiven Place in Airport Heights?
  • City staff and NL power made fast work of wind storm damage. … but how would those proposed automated garbage bins have fared?

In summation: Doc looked tired and seemed a bit snappy. But maybe I am projecting my PMS onto him. Let’s all get some rest and see you back here next week.

Written By
More from Emily Deming

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

Irrelevant proclamations, admitted snobbery from Diamond Marsh, a big win for Beagles,...
Read More

3 Comments

  • I don’t suppose Galgay mentioned that his family lives in the area, and 199 Hamilton was his campaign headquarters? He’s not exactly objective.

    • Thanks for sharing. Something didn’t smell right about this one, especially given the positive recommendation from city planners, but I see what is happening now.
      Galgay has always seemed like a particularly bad councillor, and I hope he loses his job come September.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.