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

Every week, we give Emily a pen, a pad of paper, and a mission to recap this week’s city council meeting in a readably entertaining manner. Here are her notes on this week's meeting.

Every week, we give Emily a pen, a pad of paper, and a mission to recap this week’s city council meeting in a readably entertaining manner. Here are her notes on this week’s meeting.

All Councillors present. Meeting started late. Breen joked with reporters that he will make sure not to share his vacation schedule with them. I guess he expects his run for mayor to garner the shade of a Dwight Ball premiership?

Proclamations: Cuppa Kindness Yet

The lone proclamation was “Gary” from Tim Horton’s come to bestow a Tim’s cup styled trophy on Cllr. O’Leary as MVP of Clean St john’s. With over 200 Clean-ups registered this year, it was the biggest year yet for picking up Tim Horton’s cups out of the gutters. O’Leary beaming at this – literally garbage shaped – award, was infectiously charming. It is hard to resist someone showing a moment of pure love for their day job.

A ribbing voice from the council table yelled out, “a few words Sheilagh!” but the normally verbose O’Leary kept it succinct. Sensing a void in the force, Cllr. Lane availed himself of the words O’Leary had so graciously ceded; none of which need be repeated, all of which were variations of “thanks.”

Later, in the meeting’s closing remarks, Cllr. Collins pointed out he would rather see “20 clean-ups than 200” meaning he wished people wouldn’t litter to begin with, and suggested they could possibly be persuaded by a 5 cent refund on coffee cups. Though perhaps a long-shot chance at a refund would work better, given our predilection for pull-tabs.

Planning and Development Committee Report Part I, Wetlands:
teaberrying and crosstown commuters doing donuts in Breen’s sac.
 

Cllr. Lane asked that the two recommendations coming from the notorious PDC be separated so he could register his futile objection to one of them. This worked in Cllr. Galgay and Cllr. O’Leary’s favour as each was allowed their protest vote on motions that passed easily.

Recommendation 1: Re-zoning Synod’s West Wetland to residential Low density:

Now, don’t get your Living Planet screen-printed panties in a bunch just yet. This is not actually a vote on paving wetlands. It is not even a vote on re-zoning …yet. It is a vote to allow a land-use assessment report (LUAR), at the developer’s expense, to go forward.

The issue here is whether this land is a “significant” wetland or “not.” This has been bouncing from developer to city hall and back for a few years now. In 2013 a report by Stantec was presented to the committee saying it was a significant wetland, and that it was a habitat for Teaberry, nature’s tic-tacs. I have teaberry growing at my cabin and I can testify that people lose their minds for a patch of teaberry.

It looks like if you just keep persisting you get to try, try again. This may be the municipal government version of, “if you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes.” Apparently, according to Cllr. Breen, there is a conflict between a report from the environmental advisory committee and a “report on file.” So council gave the developer the option to get a separate (third?) report.

Deputy Mayor Ellsworth says he has been to the land in question and “sometimes you can walk around in your sneakers and sometimes the water is up to your knees.” #crossfit.

Ellsworth and Breen and Hann all emphasized, one after the other, that this was NOT a re-zoning vote, but just a vote on going forward with a LUAR. They are all in favour because they believe in the sanctity of the rules and the process and think the whole thing should move forward so it can eventually be approved … or rejected. Which begs the question, why wasn’t it rejected the first time if the initial report deemed the area  “significant wetland”?

Cllrs. Lane and O’Leary both voiced objections. Lane saying basically, “We already have a report,” and that going forward in any way is a step toward approval. O’Leary said much the same in a million times more words with a few sprinkled “this raises red flags” thrown in for a urgency and colour.

Cllr. Breen showed an admirable level of NIMBY forethought by more specifically stated that he lives adjacent to the area and his “only concern about it” is that “I don’t want to have a link to Newfoundland Drive where you can shortcut from Torbay and Portugal Rd.” Oh my yes, the headwaters of the Virginia River are one thing but Johnny Skeet Public cutting through the neighbourhood on their way home from Walmart is quite another. Isn’t redundancy of routes a good thing in traffic flow? I’m actually asking. I was under the impression that it was.

Motion to approve the TOR for the LUAR passed, with only O’Leary and Lane voting against.

Planning and Development Committee Report Part II, View Planes:
Git thee to the Nunnery Hill
 

LU-A-R! LU-A-R! for 21 Holloway. This is also not a vote on re-zoning but on going forward with a Land Use Assessment Study. The long term question is whether this may be re-zoned from “Residential – Downtown” to “Apartment – Downtown.”

Cllr. Galgay asked Ken O’Brien, Chief Municipal Planner, (aka Chief MuP), to use his considerable knowledge and experience to explain the difference in these two completely self explanatory zoning categories.

To which our Chief MuP elucidated, “Apartment – Downtown does allow apartments.”

Ahhhhh. Thanks for getting us the nitty gritty on that Galgay. We were almost duped by the legalese.

Seizing his momentum, Galgay said there has been significant opposition to this development from the neighbourhood. One major objection has been the obliterating of the view through the narrows from Nunnery Hill just above the property. There is, apparently, a report on views in the city designating which are “protected” and which are merely “a view to look at.” The remainder categorized as either, “pajama town” or “Your meth-dealing neighbour’s shitty tarp-yard.”

Galgay put his be-loafered (I’m guessing.. not that there’s anything wrong with loafers. I love loafers) foot down and and said he will side with his constituents and the greater population of the city and will not support it. Furthermore he says that view point should have been “protected.”

Ellsworth clarifies,  “we are not re-zoning here tonight.” Just considering re-zoning… they need to do a report and public meeting. He “support[s] this motion because this is a fact finding mission to gather information and data.

Cllr. Hickman brought up concerns about width of potential future sidewalk and “shading” of the street if condos are built.

Mayor O’Keefe agreed that shading was an issue as it “affects everything including whether you are cool on a warm day or warm on a cool day.”

Tilley said, “warm on a cool day? I’ve never had that experience.”

“Cowan Heights, [man, Cowan heights].” said O’Keefe.

Cllr. O’Leary tried to express her support for at least getting the LUAR to elicit public engagement by comparing the “apples vs oranges” of the two issues before the committee (Wetlands re-report vs Holloway), firing up Cllr Puddister to appeal to Mayor O’Keefe to shush her from going off track. Doc agreed and both Doc and puddister exhorted O’Leary to, “Only do number two! Only do number two!” which you don’t have to enjoy politics to enjoy.

Cllr. Breen “was not a keen admirer of the the drawings provided” but, along with the entire council (minus Galgay), believed it was in the city’s best interests to go forward with the LUAR and get it to a public hearing.

Crumbs 

– The regular noise ordinance hours are extended for Mardi Gras until the witching hour (half past midnight). I would like to call on our Chief MuP to explain why the hell Halloween in St john’s is called Mardi Gras.

– Parades are happening.

– Sportscentre board of directors was approved

– The unintelligible batching through of presumably non-controversial motions occurred.

Last Gasps: ward mixers and disability art 

Ward Open Houses known as “My City Days” continue. Tuesday, October 25th is Ward 5’s (5:30pm to 8:00pm at St. Kevin’s High School, 440 Main Road, Goulds) Ward Councillor, and recent celebrity, Wally Collins will be there along with Councillor-at-large Dave Lane.

The last one was for Ward 3 and Cllr. Tilley confirmed it was heavy on the bike lane-speeding-traffic focus with a healthy side of city-budget-2016. Cllr. Lane emphasized that he hopes the turn out improves as people realize they can really “get action” here.

Cllr. Tilley congratulated Cllr Breen on his convocation for his Bachelor of Arts, 37 years in the making. Galgay suggested the city get a list of the MUN mixers so Breen could finally attend. Breen said if it weren’t for the MUN mixers he may have graduated decades ago.

Cllr. O’Leary: Neighbourhood Watch meeting on Oct 26. “Get to the Gate” by Equal Voice NL at the Capital Hotel 9:30-4pm this Sunday to help women run for Municipal politics across the province. equalvoicenl@gmail.com.

O’Leary asked the City Solicitor to summarize the city ordinance on firearms as shots have been heard around Kenmount Terrace. The city regulates the sound of the discharge but not the guns themselves, for that call police or complain to the province if you think someone is hunting illegally. The city bylaw is slated to be up for review

Ellsworth: Humane services is at CATpacity. This week only get a furry friend for just 20$ (down from 120$) adoption fee includes microchipping, vaccinations etc.

He then said, “though we normally don’t talk about events we attend in Council meetings…” a swipe at O’Leary who had just waxed rhapsodic about the screening of Maudie at the St John’s International Women’s Film Festival? Perhaps. But Maudie was amazing. Seriously. It comes out in theatres this spring. See it. … but back to Ellsworth’s Art plug: Exhibit at QE II library about accessibility. People with disabilities took photos of their life and how they get around.

O’Keefe: This city is on the cutting edge in Canada dealing with the issue of homelessness and affordable housing. (reported, not fact-checked)

adjourned!

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