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

This fall, the war on plastic continues ...

The meeting starts almost 30 minutes late as councillors do-si-do into chambers with the most upbeat aura I’ve seen this year. Is NL liquor corp sponsoring these “Special meetings” in Conference Room A prior to public Council? They all look so happy they might break into song; all festive, all fashionably late.

Except for me. I am stressed, rotted, and have been waiting since 4:30 with laptop battery about to die. Lets roll, my civic peeps. 

The good news is that Andy Wells had to wait too. He sits with the posture of R. Crumb’s Mr Natural and has a little red notebook filled with neat blue handwritten notes that he keeps re-referring to and nodding. I learned years ago that reading people’s diaries is a losing game (they disappoint on plot and are a tad heavy on the self-pity), but I would peep into that red notebook if I had the chance. 

Deputy Mayor Ellsworth comes in on crutches to sit in Doc’s throne for the day …. wait…. the throne! Alas it is set aside and replaced with a plain black rollie chair to, presumably, better accommodate Ellsworth in his convalescence. Welcome back Ellsworth! Your disembodied voice over speaker phone just wasn’t the same. The future isn’t quite yet.

Mental Health Awareness Week, May 1-7 

Theme: “Out Loud”
Sub-theme: “Sick of Waiting” … for resources, counselling, community services etc.

Canadian Mental Health Association has a bike ride for mental health and their reps at the meeting suggest that if Councillor “O’Leary can swim the tickle for mental health, the council should be able to put in a team to ride 21 kilometers.”

But who will be team captain of the SJ Council bicycle gang? Lane and Puddister lock into a steely eyed show down. 

Battle of the Atlantic!
… Commemoration and Remembrance

May 7th there will be parade at 10:30 from RNC to Gower St United Church, a service there, then on to the War Memorial for a wreath laying ceremony at 12:30. Reception after at HMCS Cabot on Southside.

Garbage (I): Keeners

Its Spring! and that means that Clean St John’s starts being that annoying kid down the street that your parents always compare you to unfavourably. They estimate over 8,000 people will volunteer with them to pick up garbage in the city this season. And whichever councillor is most Eddie Haskell about it will get an award in the fall. Since it is an election year, you can expect a whole lot of photos of councillors with ancient, road flattened Tim’s cups in their hands. 

Da Yute

National Youth Week is May 1-7. Apparently there is a sustaining biotic cycle I never learned about in science class where “parks and recreation make contributions to youth and youth make contributions to society.” I thought that was just the anaerobic swamp of loitering, but it is much more evolved, apparently.

The youth art exhibit is up now along the main stairs inside city hall. As you would expect, it is uplifting, cheesy, hilarious, good, not good, cheeky, and super-serious in equal parts. I recommend it. [aside: Dawning awareness that Cllr. Hickman walks just like Dilbert in the animated series.]

Dog Parks: Airport heights, Yes! But What about Southlands?

Cllr. Breen with the Public Works Committee follows up on Cllr. O’Leary’s requests to look into building a dog park in Airport Heights at the western end of Denis Lawlor Park. The project cost is ~$20,000 allocated from the open space reserve. However, the staff report states that, “Funds … are not available in the current Parks and Open Spaces Division operating budget, Funding would be required from capital sources.”

Meanwhile Cllr. Hann and Collins have also “been getting calls” about a need for a dog park in Southlands. But where would it go? The work of the Public Works Committee is never done.

Garbage (II): Spewage

The City is developing a sewer use bylaw. It will include penalties for non-compliance. For now the city needs to collect data about discharge. There will be questionnaires. Discharge surveys.

Garbage (III): Leaves

This fall, the war on plastic continues. Starting in October 2017, the city will only collect leaves at your curb-side for the compost/mulch program if they are in paper bags.

Why not put your leaves in your garbage bags/bins? Apparently, keeping them out of landfill lengthens the life of the landfill and lessens “tipping fees” that the city pays to the landfill.

Call 311 or use the city’s “waste app” to book bagged leaf pick-ups. Cllr. Puddister still thinks there should be a drop off point for people to dump their leaves communally. There isn’t/wont be.

Standing Committees: Fair and Square Sharing the Chairing

“Housing” was poised to break-away from the “Community Services and Housing Standing Committee” since it has grown into its own topic. Instead, a comprehensive re-jig of all the standing committees and their sub-committees will go down before the new wave of councillors (or the same old wave re-elected, sigh) comes this Fall.

There seem to have been issues not only with where each sub-committee best fits, but with who gets to chair each standing committee. Apparently “many phone calls” get made on weekends to complain about/sort this out between councillors and the Deputy Mayor.

Like Helicopter parented kids, the councillors don’t believe anyone should feel left out. A standing committee for everyone is only fairsies.

Cllr. Tilley, chair of the super-not-made-up-to-keep-a-councillor-busy Nomenclature Committee, says, “all councillors should have an opportunity to chair a standing committee.”

Street Rehab: Literally

A list of the 2017 streets that will be “rehabilitated” and those that are up for “grind and patch” this construction season are listed in this week’s agenda under “Other Business.”

Cllr. Breen clarifies that city staff make these priority lists for streets based on need, and they are not made by councillors jockeying for their own wards or for constituents’ particular grudge streets. Which sort of implies this is how it used to be done. Which sounds about right. We are so modern now, I am getting nostalgic for favours and chaos.

Go-Round High(Low)lights:

In keeping with the meeting’s Garbage theme, Cllr. Puddister wants to see how the city can catch and cite people more effectively for putting their garbage out the night before it is picked up. He suggested the traffic patrol could be used to prowl around, ratting those of us out who occasionally are up late and would rather let the gulls have at it than wake up before even our four year olds are up to haul our garbage to the curb.

Luckily, city staff sounded skeptical about the practicality of that solution/persecution. It will likely remain up to all those god-awful neighbours out there who are calling 311 on anyone who likes to get things sorted before they go to bed.

Cllr. Lane says there will be no Big Dig on Water Street this summer and that the trenchless technology work they are touting will begin in 2018. 

Deputy Mayor Ellsworth declares: Slumlords! Your days are numbered. Thanks to “closing communication loops” between the city and the province and various corporations and agencies.

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