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

Notes from the Rafters

Peace, Food and Stories: Let The Holidays Begin!

Remembrance Day is over. We’ve had our first magical snowfall, and our first sloppy windy snow dump, which means the Holidays are barrelling towards us. NL has a hard time feeding itself at the best of times, and these days are not those. Give whatever you can this year in every way that you can. Towards that end, the city food drive is coming.

Ed Walters from the Community Food Sharing Association was on hand (as he is every year) to announce the joint effort. Mayor Dan greets him warmly, “haven’t seen you since this morning.” Ed banters back, “It’s been a long day.”

Place non-perishable food items in a visible spot on the curb before 8am on your regular garbage day, Nov 19 to Nov 23, and the city will collect them. You can also drop off to City Hall and city Community Centres.

Nov 17 to 24 is YMCA Peace Week, whose goal is to “encourage thought and dialogue” that promotes peace.  You can also nominate someone in the community for a Peace Medal this week. Not a bad Christmas gift idea.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary comments, “as someone who has participated in peace week …” it is interesting how it falls right after Remembrance Day. She says Peace Week can be “folded in a loving kind of way” in after Remembrance Day activities. I believe this says something about the duality of man, sir.

The NL writers’ guild is celebrating its 50th anniversary and the city “recognizes its contributions to the cultural life of our city.” Their spokesperson says they have been “meeting once a month and criticizing each other’s writing” for half a century. All are welcome to join. Sounds fun.

Mayor Dan reads the Land Acknowledgement.

The Modified Parking Ban in Downtown Business District Passed. Obviously.

Cllr Hanlon read the snow clearing bylaw amendment, and explained the changes from last year came after “engagement with stakeholders.” Primarily, she says, Downtown business owners wanted the times changed.

  • Starting January 2, you cannot park on the “downtown business district” blocks of Water and Duckworth Streets between 4am-6am.
  • If you do, you will be either ticketed (if there is no actual snow clearing) or towed (in the event of active snow clearing).

Cllr Hanlon says they may look at changing it again next year. It is “ongoing” and “the more [we] hear from the public the better.”

She can hear from me right now that, to use a phrase I learned from Coronation Street, she is a god damned grafter. Like her or not, she is always moving, always working. I see her everywhere, either hustling real estate or attending small arts/cultural/charity events and, she is the councillor for traffic and parking, and keeps inviting more public comment. Like the public ever stops commenting about what they see as their god-given fundamental right to park exactly where they want to no matter what. And she does it all in stiletto heels. This is not a lazy human. She is the f*cking Leann Battersby of Council. Throw what you want at her, question her judgement, but she shows up for whatever the job is that day in a power suit, or an on-point bedazzled fuzzy work sweater.

Mini Figs, Mini-Land Grants/Sales, (parking for) Mini-kids.

Cllr Burton said, “lots of fun stuff coming to us” lately with the playsite approved last week and now, at 45 Blackmarsh Road, a new/used “Bricks and Mini-figs” store (legos to the uninitiated) will open by St. Pat’s bowling. Some family friendly, wha?

Council approved a Crown Land Grant of .01 Hectares (I believe this is known as “a smidge” or “enough for tulips but not potatoes.”) for extension of private property at 176 Signal Hill Road. This amounts to a thin buffer encircling the property that before didn’t go much further than the house itself. It should be just enough to support a robust ecosystem of garden gnomes, which I very much hope to see in contrast to whatever the non-gnome landscaping is sure to be at the new mega-house going in at the end of the road.

Council granted the staff-recommended 10% frontage variance at 37 Malka Drive, allowing the owner to subdivide their land into 6 lots. No neighbours objected. It is like Airport Heights recognizes what they are, and accepts infill and expansion. Take a lesson Southlands.

Parking relief (2 spaces) was granted for the daycare at the Native Friendship Centre. They already have a daycare program with adequate parking, but are now adding infant/toddler care and no one anticipates parking being a problem. Both Cllr Froude and Deputy Mayor O’Leary spoke in support of this request, emphasizing the importance of accessible childcare in “dynamic mixed-use” neighbourhoods. Cllr Korab corrects the decision note, saying it isn’t actually in Ward 3.

Making Private Property of City Land, and Making Public Demolition of Private Property

The city will sell two small pieces of land. One sliver (~1000 square ft at 2$/sq.ft) at 48 Mercer’s drive, intended to allow for dividing the property into two lots, is subject to some easements, including allowing a future walking trail (presumably Virginia River trail) to continue through the back-end behind Chancellor Park.

The second piece is a very small sliver by the sidewalk along 23-47 Lemarchant Road (~280 square ft at ~10$/sq.ft). It is a fun block to check out on Google Maps Street View, as a few feet one way or the other shows before and during the building demolition at that site. It also captures a woman with a super cute summer outfit of clogs, denim mini-shirtdress and side pony #OutfitGoals.

Mayor Dan mentions that these sales “go through several layers of government,” whatever that means.

And now, in contrast, a property owner who the city cannot get a hold of, was forced to accept mandated demolition of their private property by the city.

Council has ordered the demolition of 356 East White Hills Road (next to the entrance to the dump at Robinhood Bay), which the city says has been vacant since 2014. A notice that the property was derelict and needed repairs was sent … somewhere. Since no repairs were made, the city has deemed the structures unsafe and ordered demolition. If the owner does not comply (and they don’t usually if they have not responded to the repair orders), the city will tender for demolition and charge the owner.

Cllr Hanlon said she grew up around there and knew the owner “quite well.” Her family used to bring him Christmas packages. She wanted to make sure the owner was actually notified, and offered to help by getting in touch with his sister. She asked for clarification on whether the city sent the notice to the derelict property itself, or to wherever the owner is now. She also wanted to make sure the city wasn’t confiscating the land as part of the demolition. May we all have fierce neighbours who have our backs as hard as this.

City staff says they would have sent notices to the address they had on file for the owner, and emphasized they “only have certain means to track people down,” but they would like any help/information Hanlon could offer. Sinyard confirmed that the city only orders/tenders the demolition to ensure safety and they do not take ownership of the land.

Mayor Dan confirms that notices were sent “to the owner’s family members.”

Funk at the Dump

Mayor Dan mistook Cllr Jamieson for Cllr Burton as they are both “wearing black sweaters” and, presumably because they are both exuding the youthful energy of eager public service. They all laugh.

Much to all of our delights, Froude reads the tender notice for the “Funk Planetary P65 at Robinhood Bay” (aka compactors for the dump). Jamieson voices the room’s clear non-verbal consensus that it would be “a good band name.”

Economic update High/LowLights:

  • Businesses in Atlantic Canada are less tech savvy than the rest of the country
  • Commercial building permits are way up this year over last year but residential are down. Which makes sense since residential building was insane for a while there.
  • New entrepreneurs can head to the welcome centre on Water Streey this week, nov. 15th (9-11), for drop-in one-on-one conversation with city staff to help with any business questions.

GO ROUND:

Cllr Burton, always on top of anything family-friendly and literary, promotes two children’s book launches happening this week: Bernice Morgan at Broken Books, Friday at 7pm. Robert Chafe at Chapters, Thursday at 6pm.

Cllr Lane announced the city has compiled/released the results of its engagement efforts over the 2019 budget. There is a detailed document and a cheery infographic that really does seem to summarize public comment well. I was at one of the public sessions, and everyone wanted the exact opposite of everyone else, so just getting that all captured in a positive way on a one page PDF is impressing the pants off me. Not literally. Well, literally, my pants are already off because I work outta da home.

Cllr Hickman’s update from St. John’s Sports and Entertainment: Boney M! This December!

Cllr. Stapleton: Put a smile on someone’s face for World Kindness Day.

Cllr. Froude: Due to high winds, there are changes in garbage collection this week. Check the city website if you have Automated Garbage bins as your pick-up may be delayed one day.

Cllr. Collins: Still on top of putting mirrors up, coming from Cape Spear, for visibility. The road on Cochrane Pond culvert washed out. Asked staff to have a look at it and see if it needs to be upgraded.  “The marsh is fillin’ up. There was never wash-outs in that part. Can we look at that?”

DM O’Leary will be working with staff to update respectful workplace policy to possibly include domestic violence leave and breast feeding policy.

She also reminds everyone that it is Tax-free shopping weekend! Nov 17th there will be over 100 free parking spots open in the city garage (so no “I can’t find parking” excuses!) and deals to be had all over downtown. Go forth and spend/spread yer money/holiday cheer!

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