The new council was sworn in last week. Today was business as usual and, thank god, the election season crowds are gone from the rafters. I don’t have to punch anyone in the throat anymore to get one of the four hardcopies of the agenda left out for the public.
But it is not the same. The election brought too massive a shift. It is a council of people who don’t assume, a council of people who do their homework, a council of … nerds.
Worse than that, I know some of them socially. I like them. So this is my disclaimer: I will do my best to remain objective, but you should know, going into it, that I have previous good impressions of these keeners.
Also, it’s just not as obviously funny anymore. There is always humour all around us in the most unlikely places, but the last council was so very very likely. The tone of the column may have to change with the times. There may be a period of adjustment while I find the most useful (and most fun) way to report back to you this new reality. Stick with me. The city is worth it. Or not. We’ll see.
Highlights from the Proclamations:
We are all supposed to post selfies that illustrate “how you reduce waste” for Waste Reduction Week #WRW. There is no way this could backfire.
The City chose Habitat for Humanity as recipient of the Co-Operators’ annual $1000 oversized cheque. Oversized charity novelty checks always look mildly embarrassed to me. Cheques, by nature, are staid old fashioned relics, and they hate to be so showy, especially when the size dwarfs the donation.
October 16th is Neighbourhood Watch Awareness day. I learned that most crimes around Halloween “revolve around pumpkins.” To “fight crime in a way that is a little more fun” this year, there will be an event on November 1st at 6pm where we all bring our carved pumpkins to The Loop in Bannerman Park, and walk that Loop amidst a sea of glowing jack o’ lanterns and drink hot chocolate. Then the neighbourhood watches will compost all the pumpkins.
I love this. And I cannot wait to fight crime even harder by burning all our christmas trees on the 12th night together on confederation hill in a massive anti-crime bonfire. Bring recyclable cups for the Glög!
Credit Unions have a day. This is just getting silly.
Development, Re-zoning, and Beer
Cllr. Jamieson gave us the best news, the beer related news! The old Fire House turning brewpub and cafe at 90 Duckworth is moving along and council has now approved the amendment to the Municipal Plan, and to the Development Regulations, that will allow this site to be re-zoned (after approval by the province and a commissioner’s hearing for the public on November 7th) from Residential Downtown (RD) to Commercial Central Mixed-Use (CCM).
Mayor Breen agreed it will be a “nice entrance to the East End,” and then he confirmed that we are the most conservative and slow-to-adopt, and always-twenty-years-behind-trends-city ever by calling a small scale brewpub and cafe a “unique plan.”
Cllr. Korab stepped up like the hero he is to tell us all that no one wrote in any objects to the rezoning of 571 Empire Avenue from Residential Low Density (R1) to Residential Medium Density (R2). Moved and approved. Now there shall be two (houses) where once there was one (pending a new survey and an application for subdivision).
160 Patrick St. (aka that house that was painted like a Lakers’ jersey, but then burned down) has permission to re-build.
Cllr. Burton, on behalf of the Development Committee, asked council to approve an “8.3% Flanking Road Side Yard variance” for 212 Castle Bridge Drive. The most rare and precious of all variances. I would guess.
Mayor Breen: Great Job Councillor Burton. Yes. Great indeed. Great indeed are the everyday municipal heroes on their fearless slog through the sub-divisional development regulations of life.
Not to be outshone, Cllr. Froude moved approval of a tender to buy three new Chevy Cruzes to replace three venerably aged vehicles for the Fire Department.
The stuff of life I tell you.
Parks Canada will put up a bronze plaque on “Mile Zero Plaza” at City Hall to commemorate the building of the TransCanada highway. I was confused, but I am pretty sure the mayor said “there were two plaques, but now there will be a third,” and that the Parks Canada one “won’t take away from the one by the city and CAA.”
If we get any more, we can use them to cover up the potholes on the highway, like bronze bridges over the abyss. The new plaque will be, according to our mayor, “A place for tourists to go and get their picture taken.”
The city respectfully is denying a request to donate to the Consent Culture Forum at Memorial University on the 20th. Deputy Mayor O’Leary explained that it does not meet the criteria for “meetings and conventions” in the city’s policies.However, she was at pains to say she supports the concept of the forum and believes it to be “extremely important.” But the city must stick with the rules, so as to be “fair and equitable” about all donation requests.
O’Leary suggested that the policy itself should be referred to the Finance Committee for review. Cllr. Burton suggested that to further consent culture in the City, they look into having a Consent Forum of their own at City Hall. That idea is now with Community Services for consideration.
Mile One Missing Cash Auditor Report!
Not as exciting as we all feared (hoped)
The city has released a preliminary report on the missing $114,863.40 cash from Mile One. $56,774.35 of it appears to have been accounting errors, so it wasn’t money that existed and went missing, but money that never existed and was just made up of accumulated accounting errors over the course of four years.
The remaining $58,089.05 is still missing. But the controls were not great enough to ever be able to tell where it went. Did someone purposefully steal it over the course of 1-5 years? Is it more errors that are not traceable? Or did many people each steal little bits of the cash as it came in each month? Auditor says: Reply hazy, try again.
Recommendations for tighter controls and better accounting are already being enacted, but it looks like the grand scandal we were all secretly hoping for, is never to be. It is not Ocean’s Eleven. It is closer to Clerks. The full and final report will be released in November. Don’t hold your breath for a surprise scene at the end of the credits to make the wait worth while.
At least the new Basketball team is named The Edge, and so I got to learn about “edging” today on Twitter. Hopefully, despite the name, the crowds will come quickly over and over again and shower the downtown with positive economic spillover.
Not a Single Shenanigan
In the closing “go-round,” each councilor mentioned real and good and important work they are doing in the community, and thanked the people of the city sincerely. They can’t go on like this for four years, can they? If they do, Maybe Drew Brown will teach me the ropes up in The House of Assembly. That’s not falling to a wave of no-nonsense, straight-forward, sleeve-roller-uppers any time soon.