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

City Council
This week's big municipal drama: the people of Craigmillar Avenue can no longer park on sidewalks they personally deem impassable for pedestrians

Half this meeting was every council member wishing happy Holidays in various forms to every other council member and to staff and to the public. So. That’s done now. I just cut out at least 700 words.

Also Cllr Jamieson had on a terrific Christmas dress, and I think if my kids’ school has to have Christmas outfit theme day every single day this week, then the rest of the councillors could have managed a few on-point antler headbands or elf bells. Sheesh.

True Holiday Spirits:
Downtown Distillery Drives Updates to Development Regulations

Someone wants to open a craft brewery and distillery in the old Templeton’s building at 140 Harbour Drive. The city was all like, “Yes just submit your applications here here and here, and we can run through or normal processes and … ohhhhh wait, a what?”

Until now, the drinkingest spot in the drinkingest city in the drinkingest province of a (let’s face it) pretty milquetoast country, does’t actually acknowledge breweries or distilleries in either the Municipal Plan or the Development regulations.

An understandable oversight from a place that likes to bring everything that warms our hearts, souls, and bodies from across the waters (ahem, electricity).

But fear not! Instead of this jolly enterprise drowning in municipal limbo, the council has voted to adopt-in-principal a few simple changes to both The Plan and The Regs to acknowledge this new (but really super old) use. For some areas a brewery/distillery will be a “permitted” use and for others a recognized “discretionary” use.

This does not mean anyone can brew/distill now with no further ado. Don’t you worry neighbours, there will always be further ado!

These amendments still have to be approved by the province, and then come back to council for official approval. And any potential brewery or distillery (including the one prompting these changes) still has to go through all regular steps, notices to the public, etc. And for those frozen in fear that the village of Quidi Vidi was mentioned in these changes (with its sensitivity to change and traffic), council assures us that no new brewery is popping up.

The amendments are only taking into account what is already there (e.g. QV brewery or Yellow Belly on Water) and making sure the current reality is not at odds with the updated regulations.

So, we haven’t heard the end of this. But these changes should make applying for this sort of business a little more straightforward. All the hoops still need to be jumped through, they are just being re-shaped to fit potential (and current) jumpers.

Neighbourhood Massage Business; Neighbourly Parking Freak-outs

 In smaller but more typical news, council approved a discretionary use application to allow a registered masseuse to operate out of their home at 36 Exmouth St.

Only one submission against this was received, but it deserves mention, as a well-written two page opus which reveals the author’s comprehensive disapproval of people parking along (the public and legal) street at all really and, further, considers the possible 6 extra people per day who may now be drawn to their block; a serious safety hazard.

I’d go so far as to say that they also definitely already think this house is a trash person, because sometimes they have a car on the street instead of in the driveway. What better reason to sabotage your neighbour’s attempts to make a living?

I will never not be fascinated by people who don’t recognize that whom specifically parks where (as long as it is legal) is not for them to control. Parking, driving, walking for that matter, are what we all have to do to get about in our lives, and we all suck at them sometimes. We don’t usually do our best.

Someone on local twitter complained that pedestrians here don’t wear enough reflective gear. I will park where I can, and I will not dress like a rave kid circa 2001 just to get to pilates or home from the pub.

Dudes, wish your neighbours luck in making a buck, park where you can, avoid hitting pedestrians, and, if you are a pedestrian, realize you are basically invisible after 4 pm in the winter, and do your best to walk down the middle of the street shouting and waving your arms like I do. For safety.

When you finally do get home safe but mad (obvs, is there any other mode?) maybe go grab a massage.

Parking on the Sidewalk?

One of my great joys when I lived in Houston, Texas was coming home from a stressful day at the office and driving right over and past my driveway to park smack in the middle of my front lawn. It was like having a valet. I got out right at my front door. You can do that in Texas. They aren’t so into things like zoning or anyone telling you what you can or can’t do on your own property.

But even there, no one would have parked on the sidewalk. So colour me surprised to learn that the stodgiest of cities has been sanctioning this very thing along parts of Craigmillar Ave for ever, or at least since 2004, which is plenty long enough for residents to be super annoyed now, that they must give up this pleasure.

Apparently, this all comes down to a slight allowance in interpretation on parking enforcement policy. If the sidewalk is considered “passable” during snow season, then you may not park on it. If the snow is so bad that the sidewalk is “impassable” anyway, then why not pull up on to it, I guess the thinking went. Okay. Fair enough.

While this is (I just learned) actually a thing all around this city, in most neighbourhoods, the call of what was “passable” and what was not is up to the parking enforcement officer. They may use their discretion to not ticket people for sidewalk parking if the sidewalks are already bogus ice-junk anyway.

But on this one stretch on Craigmillar, the city granted a weird subtle exception (until now) that allowed the parkers themselves, not the parking officer, to determine what was “passable.”

This is the stuff of municipal politics. This is the good stuff. I love this. It is all so particular and unimportant … except, it is way more important than the “big” stuff if you happen to live there. It is a huge deal, probably in your daily life, and affects a ton of shoveling decisions.

Anyway, it is gone now. Craigmillar is now just like the rest of the city; you can still park up on ‘er, but you may now get a ticket.

Most of council agreed it was only right to make sure the whole city was on the same line and also, as Cllr Jamieson put it, “There is no reason for us to ever encourage people to park on sidewalks.” But the residents of Craigmillar have a champion in Cllr Hickman.

He not only held firm, voting futilely against this change, he characterized it as a “historic situation.” Which, I believe the Craigmillar-ites should appreciate for the gravitas it brings to their plight.

While panties-in-a-bunch over parking on Exmouth Street is, indeed, easy to make fun of, I will reserve a little space in my heart for Craigmillar where it really is quite tight.

Cllr. Korab summed up everyone’s feelings about this issue well. “If this was brought up anywhere else, it wouldn’t even be entertained. If residents are unhappy, they can reach out to myself or Cllr Hanlon. Preferably to Hanlon.”

That is the kind of honest camaraderie on which I would like to end the year. And if you are unhappy with my column, you can reach out to myself or to my editor, Chad Pelley. Preferably Pelley.

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