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

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The winner of this week’s council meeting was the school girl from St Teresa’s who got a certificate for Walk or Wheel to School Month.

She introduced herself to Mayor Breen by pointing out “[he’s] got two doggies” on his throne, then beamed with such genuine pride when he shook her hand, that I practically bawled.

Before leaving, she insisted we all look up at the portraits of past mayors, as Mayor Breen looks like “The third one up there.” There was some confusion whether she was indicating H.G.R. Mews or William Gilbert Adams. But, honestly, she definitely meant Adams. Other than the round vs oval head shapes, they are basically identical.

Mayor Breen welcomes everyone in the gallery each week and also, “those watching on Rogers at home.” A nod to technology missed by the previous mayor.

Parking is the Gear for W.J. Caul’s Funeral Home

In response to a discretionary use application to turn residential lots on 1-7 Gear Street into 17 parking spaces (which carried), Cllr Hanlon pointed out that Caul’s “seems to be busy,” which makes sense given our province’s “tsunami of seniors” to quote former councillor Hann.

Cllr Hanlon said she has watched over the years as they have taken “many buildings,” and that the lot is now “larger than the building.” She suggested that, in the future, the city “look at ‘up’ not ‘out’” for parking. She said she has been reading studies on “small parking garages” and suggests the city staff take a look at this possibility in the future.

This council reads parking studies in its spare time?!! And I have evidence that they spend at least some of their evenings cramming city planning books/studies. It is like we are living in a way less annoying Vancouver all of a sudden. [Disclaimer, I’ve never been to Vancouver, but I assume it is run by nerds and also that it is really annoying.]

Regular Runoff

Cllr collins has no objections to a rebuild-after-fire of a non-conforming use building at 149B petty Harbour Rd. He only asks that the city make sure the drain is opened when putting in the culvert. Cllr Collins never lets his eye stray from the flooding ball.  Does anything happen in Ward 5 other than construction related run-off issues and Chase the Ace? You wouldn’t know it from council meetings.

Connie Parsons School of Dance vs Kent Place:
The Saga Continues

Before the election, the people of Kent Place successfully blocked an application by Connie Parsons School of Dance (CPSOD) to expand its parking lot by absorbing the driveway of the property next door (a residential property that Connie Parsons’ real estate company bought for that purpose, among others). The opposed neighbours were a unified block of letter writing fiends. Bloc Kent Place 1; Dance School 0.

Now Connie Parsons School of Dance has re-applied. But the veil has dropped and she comes to the fight with her own horde of letter-writers. She sees Kent Place’s petition, with a petition signed by a bunch of Emerson St and Portugal Cove residents in support of her application, and then raises them one petition signed by multiple pages of current and former students of the CPSOD.

And if you thought letters in support of a parking lot expansion couldn’t possibly be as hyperbolic as the letters in opposition, you’ve never followed a parking issue in this city, my friend. One supporter writes, “When I first heard about the idea of a parking lot expansion I cannot even begin to explain my excitement,” but then proceeds to explain just that for two pages.

Ward Cllr Froude requested they defer the application until they get the “engineering report” back. It seems there is not a consensus on how many new parking spaces the expansion would allow.I’d say this round goes to CPSOD.

Tune in next week for the tie-breaking decision!

More Letters, Less Bags?

Deputy Mayor O’Leary has filed a notice of motion to (again) ask that the city write a letter to the province in support of a ban on single-use plastic bags. This came up last year after the last annual meeting of the NL municipalities. But this time it just might work.

Round-up:

Cllr Collins confirmed the contractor paving the Back Line will finish driveway tie-ins later this week.

Cllr Froude did a ride-along on a garbage truck through The Goulds and was enamoured. Like you would be!

Cllr Korab gives a shout out to the bearded Merb’ys and their sexy calendar.

Cllr. Jamieson, after getting blowback in the news for some of the changes the last council made to the rules for who is (and who is no longer) eligible for city housing, has suggested that the policy be referred back to the Committee of the Whole so the new council can “look at a longer roll out and have a longer conversation.”

This looks like a councillor caving to unfavourable media on a reasonable policy (though the comments section, as a bloc, was 100% supportive of the city on this one). We will find out in the…da da daaa: Committee of The Whole next week!

Cllr Stapleton loved the Pumpkin Walk at the Bannerman Park loop and hopes it will be an annual event. I was there too. It was undeniably cute and can’t have cost much of anything. It was insanely popular. When I left, there were still hordes of people filling the park to see all the jack o’ lanterns.

Cllr Hanlon is “glad to be rid of halloween,” which is a bold statement for a politician. She also asked if the city can look at moving from a three year cycle of assessments (presumably for our property taxes) to a one year cycle.

Staff said there were “upcoming discussions” with the province and can bring those back to council in the next two weeks.

Cllr Hickman asked staff and the built heritage experts panel to look at a program used in San Francisco and Vancouver that supports “legacy companies.” These are companies that are closing due to rising costs, but have been a part of the historic downtowns for a long time and may benefit a city that brings in tourists for its heritage.

Cllr. Burton thanks staff and contractors for progress on the new playground in Kenmount Terrace. She also congratulated Valérie Plante who is the first women elected to mayor of Montreal ever.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary requests that they discuss, at the next Committee of the Whole, creation of a “heritage policy sub-committee” under Planning.

Mayor Breen bucks with two mayors’ worth of tradition by not giving two flicks if he gets in the last word and just adjourns with zero speechifying.

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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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