Every week, we give Emily a pen, a pad of paper, and a mission to recap this week’s city council meeting in a readably entertaining manner. Here are her notes on Monday the 3rd’s meeting.
Proclamations I: (Don’t) Burn it down! Clean it up!
Fire prevention week is October 8th to the 15th.
Fire chief Jerry “he’s a peach” was on hand to spread the message of fire prevention and invited the community to come to a parade Saturday the 8th, a booth at the avalon mall Oct 11th-15th, and a chance to eat soup with a firefighter on Parade street. So put Tinder on hold for a week and strike up a conversation with a real live firefighter. Their website should be updated soon with more details.
Is it coincidence that the week “Luke Cage” debuts on Netflix is the week the city proclaims Neighbourhood Watch day is October 5th, 2016? Sadly, yes. The presenters focused primarily on cleanliness (picking up garbage and “graffiti issues”) and the city’s website sucks away any remaining anti/superhero hope specifying that this is not vigilanteism.
Ellsworth tried his best to entice participation by pointing out you can come see how it works without making “any commitments.” At least the call to Watch won’t light any dangerous fires in our bellies. For more information call (709) 726-0180.
Proclamations II: Listen to Your Elders
Sharon Callahan, of the Avalon Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the City’s Seniors’ Advisory Committee, called on us all to recognize the contributions of “older persons” in our community for Senior’s Week, October 3rd to the 9th.
O’Keefe recognized she was referring to a growing segment of the council itself, “That’s you and I, Bruce. Wally you’re not there yet are you? Tom? Art you’re not there yet.”
To which Puddister replied, “One more year.”
“I thought you said one more sleep! That’s a long sleep!” Doc then continued more seriously by urging “all to recognize the crucial role played by senior Canadians”.
And Callanan proved age does not dull wit and political savvy by immediately turning O’Keefe’s plea back on the city, “[Then] I look forward to [our committee’s] recommendations on the older persons’ pension plan getting heard.”
The City’s Senior of the year award went to Barbara Howlett. Holding the sparkling crystal shard taken from Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, Howlett was straightforward, “It’s just a plain honour, and everything I do I thoroughly enjoy.”
Hann listed her achievements and, in a perfect example of why our small city is adorable, we learned Howlett’s mom taught Councillor Wally Collins’ mom at the first rural school in The Goulds and “Wally’s mom was [Howlett’s] godmother.”
The talk of school rooms made Galgay’s persistent whispering and note passing at least temporarily thematically appropriate.
Getting Nowhere with Bicycle Lanes
Puddister moved to remove parking restrictions in city bike lanes indefinitely.
Last year the restrictions were removed for the winter months when the lanes would likely be under snow, but this current motion did not set a limit on when the restrictions would end.
Tilley, who gets calls “almost daily” about parking in his ward, seconded the motion.
Lane, who chairs the Bike Task Force set up last year, defended how long it is taking for any recommendations to come forward to council and managed expectations for when they do finally come clarifying that they will be generally about “principles” and “what is possible” and will not include the usably specific information of which streets should have lanes.
But he assured Puddister that “there are plenty of cyclists.” Too bad “plenty” isn’t a plannable figure.
Hickman brought up specific practical concerns with the motion: would the city remove the painted lines? or put up signs explaining the parking is no longer restricted?
Ellsworth, O’Keefe, and O’Leary all commented that council had the same conversation last year and, once again, after the holidays they should all “take a step back” and there should be a comprehensive “planned strategy that actually works.”
Ellsworth said he would support the motion with reservations and O’leary and O’Keefe would not and considered it throwing out the money and planning already put into the lanes that should instead be modified and built upon.
Puddister, Galgay, and Tilley voted for the motion. It did not carry. The consensus seemed to be that it would pass if it was not “indefinite.” So look for this to be raised again next week.
COMMITTEE REPORTS : Arts Funding, Long Lost Twins, and the Devil of Details
Community Services and Housing Committee:
A draft Policy of Grants to Artist and Arts Organizations was approved with one important exception. A clause that would have eliminated sustainable (multi-year) funding was NOT approved. This means that three year (sustaining) grants should be available similar to provincial and federal programs.
Economic Development, Tourism and Public Engagement:
The town of Kommune Kujalleq, South Greenland sent a pen-pal letter to St john’s in hopes that we could pinky swear and “twin,” poignantly highlighting that classic problem of rural kids: your closest potential friend is still too far away to play dinkies.
The committee wanted to leave its options open before committing to a lunch room table indefinitely and so agreed to “open a dialogue” with Kujalleq without formally “twinning.”
Galgay was annoyed that this went to a committee (that he wasn’t on) instead of coming directly to council. He was like, “remember when that town in Turkey asked us to the mid-winter carnival? Well I wouldn’t want Dave to say ‘no’ when maybe I DO want to go with that town.” And Lane was all, “My bad! Totes.”
It was at this riveting juncture that O’Keefe threatened to slow the pace of the meeting yet further by pointing out that, though the committee reports are limited to action items for council, that meeting in question had been 2 hours long and had dealt with many more things that Galgay might object to being out of the loop on.
Hann then noted that his committee also did lots of stuff no one ever knew about, and maybe more awesome stuff from committees should be brought up at council.
My new hero, The City Clerk, then stepped in to save the day (and every future meeting from lasting til the end of days) by pointing out that all relevant information and all agendas from each committee can already be found online.
The Nomenclature committee bucked the suggested trend by stating succinctly that they would like to defer their report.
Councillors’ Miscellany: Bad Neighbours, Open Doors, Cheap Lights, and More
Galgay received a petition to have the landlord of 34-38 Cook St and 18 Scott St. remove the current tenants and be more responsible in screening future tenants. Reasons listed included: pounding on windows and doors, stabbing, police searches, drugs bought/sold and the “stockpiling [of] cars.” He submitted the petition to the city, forwarded it to the RNC, and filed it away under “script ideas for ROD movie.”
Tilley and Collins announced open office hours for their constituents.
O’Keefe and O’Leary, enjoying a real eye-to-eye day, both highlighted the success of the city’s International Student Mixer at MUN and the importance of retaining this diverse and educated workforce upon graduation.
Never to go unmentioned, Traffic concerns this week took the form of the community movement popping up on lawns around town with “slow down” signs.
O’Leary commended this grassroots campaign but cautioned that they would have to be taken down if on public property due to The Man’s square city bylaws.
And in other square news, what’s the deal with the Polina and Kenmount intersection? According to Sinyard, from Planning Development and Engineering, they were “working through technical issues.” But wait! O’Keefe can top that non-answer with, “It’s ongoing. It’s being pushed ahead.” ah.
Breen suggested the City look into a long term plan to convert all street lamps to LED, therefore realizing a long term gain with much lower operation costs. This “position paper” is about to be some staffer’s noble and excruciating project.
Spurred on by a citizen’s call, Puddister suggested there be bulk garbage/metal bins placed around the city.
Lane reads The Guardian, where even the Brits have made note of our traffic box art program. But he is also a man of the people and therefore has a sneaking suspicion that pushing the regular fireworks to January 1st this year may result in more “individual firework displays” and perhaps there should be some discussion about safety.
The Visitor Information centre is closing on Water St. Two locations will still be open: Quidi Vidi Plantation and YYT.
In Awesome PR news, there is an “ocean tech media program” where we contract local writers to share with international journals what is going on locally with ocean technology.
Hickman brought up the impending library roundtable discussions. Asked Community Services to look into this to make sure our libraries are not being cut to fund rural libraries. Both Hickman and O’Leary brought up the dream of a downtown library branch.
O’Keefe echoed that library services are already at a minimum in this city and, if anything, should be increased. And all present took comfort in looking good relative to the Provincial austerity budget.
In Conclusion: Andy Wells is the Wrongiest
Though news outlets in town gave Wells, the former Mayor and current Chairman of the Public Utilities Board, a platform after last week’s council meeting to show off his tweeds, his banter, and his outrage, Council got the last word:
Puddister: I have a question for our city solicitor about the information bylaw amendment passed last week. Wells said we “cut the guts out of it”. Did we?
City Solicitor: It will have no impact whatsoever.
Council then dropped its mic, flipped Wells’ portrait the bird and rocked the meeting home dancing on the podiums to the Lies album version of Guns N’ Roses “You’re Crazy”