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

City Council

Proclamations: of Money and Men

International Credit Union Day

Credit unions are “community builders” that “make people masters of their own destiny.”

 Stewardship Association of Municipalities

A Cllr from Stephenville Crossing and a conservation biologist presented a conservation scholarship to Alexandra Hayward. But not before one of them said, “It is exciting to spend money on really promising young people. We will go on and get old and grey … and who will replace us?”

She looked at Mayor Dan and corrected herself, “well, older and greyer.” Mayor Dan re-corrects her ruefully, “I can get older, but I can’t get much greyer.”

Big laughs all around. Damn does he ever have the hang of this. Cornerboy Doc’s got nothing on ‘Dorable Dan. Also, in conservation, wetlands are great, and we are all going to die in the maelstrom of our species’ making.

Now Introducing, Someone Who Is No Stranger To These Chambers … Frannnnnk Galgay!

Frank says this is his first time back in chambers in 5 years, after his 16 years on council. “Most spent in meetings.”

Another big chamber-wide chortle.

Frank Galgay was with Donna Kearney Adams, to present their new book from Flanker Press. It’s about Adams’ father, Joseph Kearney and the Hunt for Rommel: The Life of a Newfoundland Commando.

The book and her father sound 100% badass, and worthy of a movie starring Steve McQueen. Mayor Dan says stories like this are “an important part of our heritage and culture” and a “great contribution to the city.” Which may be, but claiming an individual’s badassery for the rest of us who happen to live where they were born seems … oh f*ck it. Who am I to pride-suck. We are awesome! Woot woot! St John’s Commandos 4eva!

 Mayor Dan reads the Land Acknowledgement, and the Traditional Karate World Championships are added to agenda. Wait. What? Maybe the Kearney proclamation did make us all cool.

Business Arising from the Minutes:
Rabbittown Theatre Sold!

106 freshwater Road, the old Rabbittown Theatre will be rezoned from “Institutional” to “residential high density” to allow for renovations to turn it into a 2 unit dwelling.

Two submissions were in favour, as long as there was off street parking (there is). One was disappointed there wouldn’t be more units going in. That is a first. But now that it is rezoned, more units are allowed, so we will see.

I would like to retroactively submit my disapproval that I am not the one who is buying and renovating this property. It is the coolest parcel in town. I toured it with a realtor last year. Even with rain cascading in through the broke roof, it had so much potential. I hope they don’t make it suck. I hope at least they keep the basement as a theatre, and have epic halloween parties there where they play horror movies and have a truly horrifying haunted house for all the neighbourhood kids through the warren of basements spaces. Community.

New Suburbanites Forced To Live Around A Few More People Who Would Move To New Suburbs: 9 Great Southern Drive

This was held over from last week, when Cllr Burton asked for a week to check into neighbours’ concerns about loss of green-space, as their development in Southlands enters “Phase II.” Fairview Investments Ltd is applying for a discretionary use application to allow two apartment buildings (6 units in each) where previously only town homes and single family dwellings were proposed.

Cllr Collins said, “That space there was supposed to be green-space.”

City staff clarified, “This area was R2, the green-space is across the street.”

Cllr Collins suggests a privacy fence between neighbours and the new apartment buildings.

Mayor Dan says that the city has, in the past, approached developers about fences.

City staff stoicly stifle a do-they-not-know-how-to-read-a-map-tone and explain, “The new units are across the street from the town homes, so where would the fence go?”

Cllr. Burton concludes with, “It is a readily developing area. Development was always in the plan for that area.”

And it still is. Motion carried.

Built Heritage Experts Panel Report

A new sign on a new business at 284 Water street is twice the height regulations, and has to go.

Despite owner arguing that being near the “entertainment district” should allow their signage to be bigger and brighter. Panel says no. It will have to come down. They then “encouraged” the applicant to “use colour and a border to enhance the façade,” which I can only imagine is some sort of super hard burn in heritage circles.

Large pink “G” on new salon at 15 LeMarchant can stay.

Since it is only one letter, the Panel allowed that the regular restrictions on size of text could be flexible.

Basic “life safety” repairs are allowed at the Masonic Temple.

After that, the owners will have to come down to the panel and hash out future, more extensive renovations. I’d say this may be the canary-in-the-development-mine that signals how flexible/rigid helpful/antagonistic the city is currently towards heritage building owners. This stuff is hard. Everyone feels connections and ownership over everything downtown. But only the actual owners have to put up their shirts to get anything done. Fricken’ fraught.

Special Events Advisory Committee Report

I will never get over how perfectly some of the councillors match their committee assignments. Of course Fred-from-ScoobyDo-Korab is head of the party planning committee. And, yes, that does make Burton Velma-of-Development-and-Planning.

Cllr Korab: Stella’s circle will have their annual Light Up Hope event inside the closed off section in the centre of Rawlins Cross.

Ward Cllr Jamieson explained that a number of councillors “were approached about this,” and she thanked them for their willingness to “workshop the ideas around this event.” She said it is an exciting way to use that space, and “who knows what we can do with it more permanently in the future.”

The rest of council looked like they agreed and Cllr Hanlon, asked people to “send in suggestions” for what we could use the space for if it does become permanent.

Cllr Burton double checked that the fire department has confirmed that it can navigate Rawlins Cross Roundabout safely without using the middle section during an emergency. They have.

Carries unanimously. By unanimously I mean everyone raised their hands except Cllr Collins. His one week of hand raising last week seems to have plum tuckered him back out.

Development Permits List

Cllr Stapleton notes that 60 Eastland Drive (and its cannabis Growth Production Facility) is actually in Ward 2, not Ward 1. This is notable because I always forget Stapleton exists. But, on the other hand, someone has to make sure the meetings don’t last longer than necessary.

If I was still the teenager I was, OR an active mobster, I would absolutely download the building permits list every week to see who is putting in a swimming pool for either future skinny dipping OR current corpse disposal. #knowyourneighbourhood.

Tender Tenders

The Finance and Administration Department is replacing computers “at end of life,” which is a particularly touching way to refer to old office equipment.

One Cllr (I think it was Lane but I’m not 100%) asks what happens to the old computers (end of life care)?

Staff say they are either sent out for auction, or something else I didn’t hear. But I assume it was appropriately respectful and touching.

The rest of the tenders were mostly to do with snowblowers/scraper/salt spreaders. Goodbye summer and our briefly enjoyed sidewalks! Helloooo shovel.

Not-Petit Petition

Cllr Froude read a petition from subdivisions around The Mall, asking that the city halt construction in the area until they have greater communication, comprehensive traffic studies, surveys, traffic calming, lowered speed limits, thoughtful planning, and sustainable development. They basically asked for everything.

Cllr Hanlon says a traffic survey will go out around the end of the month.

“-do” it

Council votes to support an event/dinner at City Hall for $2.5k for the 2018 World Traditional Karate Championships later this month. The championships will be held the week of Oct 22 at Mile One and will obviously be amazing.

Budget: Spending the Surplus to Save

Cllr Lane announced the city’s projected ~3 million dollar surplus. Like in 2016, council has decided to use at least some of that surplus to pay down pension debt. This will save the city money on interest in subsequent years. Everyone agrees on this. Cllr Collins voices council’s feelings succinctly, “I seconded the motion, one reason was common sense.”

Lane explains that some of the surplus will remain “surplus” to “hedge for future emergencies” like a water main break or a “legal decision not in our favour.”

Go Round Highlights

Cllr Lane: Go to engagestjohns.ca for upcoming budget sessions this month! Not to fear monger but, he points out, correctly, that “If you’re not contributing to this discussion then someone else is.” We all know what sort of asshats show up at engagement sessions. Don’t let the Neighbourhood Association bullies and the random wingnuts win.

On the other hand, meh, it’s probably going to be gross out and my cat will be on my lap. No, Dave, I can’t reach my laptop without disturbing my cat, so I can’t watch the FB live session either.

JK. I will totes be at the Foran Room at City Hall for the very last session on Tuesday Oct 30 7-9pm. Come in costume and chant “pretty sidewalks are pretty wasteful! Save my mil rate!” or whatever. Speak what’s in your heart. 

Cllr Collins and Mayor Dan have both been getting calls from Shea Heights saying the city must have messed up, because the new road is much too narrow to drive. But no. Cllr Collins said he got the same reaction during traffic calming work out in the Goulds, but if b’ys from The Goulds can get used to it, the folks on The Brow can too.

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