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

Councillors agree to slow down the progressive tackling of age-old traffic issues for now.

Two things you should know :

  1. My half-bald, old-as-sin cat, who is well past her 9 lives, is literally hugging my left arm as I type this. She wakes up every few minutes and gives my wrist a squeeze then purrs herself to sleep.
  2. More relevant, but much less important, is that council meetings are back in council chambers finally! No more Foran Room slumming on Monday nights! Massive flat screens have been installed along the walls to display in high def … an unzoomed word document. Cool cool. I know we are all supposed to hate paper these days, but how many printed agendas do two flat screens equal, in both carbon footprint and tax payer dollars? It is like the city is deliberately not listening to my grandmother, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” But perhaps I pooh-pooh too soon. Maybe they will make a killing renting out chambers for the World Cup and Superbowl Sunday watch parties, and we can avoid the looming tax hike. I would 100% pay to eat mussels out of a bucket and drink pitchers while watching municipal election results on these new bad boys.

So Clean, So Beautiful:
Dave Changes Lanes and Nalcor Asks People to do Better

As his last act as the Council’s rep for St John’s Clean and Beautiful, Cllr Lane handed out the annual Golden Broom awards. Later in the meeting, council voted (with Lane’s blessing) to replace Lane with Cllr Stapleton.

Mayor Dan, to Lane, “It’s your swan song.”

Cllr Lane replied, “It’s not a swan song. That’s when you die.” Which is the greatest bold/awkward response to a cliche in quite a while. If he was dying, that wouldn’t be a bad last line. He went on to say, “It is a sad day, but it’s been a great 6 years or more. My life is changing and we have a new council … so it’s with pleasure I can roll over to Stapleton who has shown hard work.”

Cllr Stapleton, with her signature beige brevity, stood to say a “quick thank you and looking forward to working with St. John’s Clean.”

One of the winners of the Golden Broom was Nalcor (you may know them from such seasonal favourites as The Muskrat Falls Inquiry) for some super cute “go green” monthly challenges for their employees, in “hope[s] that employees will move to a more sustainable way of life.” This makes Nalcor totally relatable; it’s like when I’m lecturing my daughter on the true meaning of Christmas, and telling her to stop asking for material goods, and think about others less fortunate while peeking over my laptop screen, which is just a giant online cart of kimonos for myself.

Trafficking: Hanlon Cries, “Stop The [Pilot] Madness!”

Cllr Hanlon moves to stop any further traffic pilot projects until those in progress are completed.

“With so much on the go, we should hold off on these until others are funded.”

She praised the “progressive” way the city was tackling various age-old issues, but acknowledged that these pilots/changes do cause “upset to the community,” and suggested that what has been tested so far, and those currently being piloted (like Rawlins Cross), should be fully completed (analyzed and then – depending on the results – scrapped or added to the 2019 capital list and made permanent).

She indicated people are a bit tired of upheaval, and thought it would be “nice to see some success.”

Deputy Mayor O’Leary agreed that “some should come to full fruition … before [they] move on to other ones.”

Cllr Froude wanted to know if this motion would preclude council from moving forward with the Terra Nova curb extensions. Cllr Hanlon said it would until every project from 2017/2018 was completed, but that any individual projects could come before council again for consideration.

Motion carried.

There’s no Business like Home Business (except when its a dog “doing its business”)

The Shop, SALT Inc. (the makers of inexplicably popular T-shirts that say “Salt” — though I’m middle-aged and wear sequinned cardigans with embroidered tigers so what do I know) was approved as a “residential Retail Store” at 10 Merrymeeting Road. They will be open for 1-2 hours, three evenings a week.

A few neighbours submitted letters. They were mostly supportive of the young entrepreneurs, as long as all business is conducted within the building and there aren’t noise issues; all except Tom Badcock (Executive Director of The Hub across the street, and a former city council candidate). According to his letter to the city, he is still super pissed about the “pup n suds” going in on that same block, as he says all the customers park in the Hub’s lot and, additionally, “When the dog gets out of the business, it does its business on our property.”

Though poetically worded, I’m not sure that complaint will apply to a t-shirt shop, though with these crazy Millenials who even knows, amirite? There was also a petition against the shop but it only had 7 signatures, two from the same address, in the same handwriting, and one from someone on a street in a completely different neighbourhood.

The application passed, and Ward Cllr Jamieson hopes the “applicant would be mindful of being a good neighbour in the area.”

37 Bells Turn in Ward 4 is approved for “home occupation” for baked goods. All goods will be delivered and no customers will be coming to the home itself. No submissions.

(good) Poetry and (bad) Mood-lighting

Cllr Burton announced the City’s new Poet Laureate will be Mary Dalton. She was picked out of three applications received. Two of which were for Poet McPoetface.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary asked for an update from Staff on the request she put in this summer for “improved,” possibly LED, street lighting on Water St. She said this was at the urging of business owners, and described the current lighting as “dim” and “orangey in tone.” I don’t understand the world. Everyone wants those “vintage” “70s” filters on their electronic photographs, but will go to great lengths to replace live action warm-toned sodium lights that make everything look cool IRL.

Staff says that now that Construction season is over, they will have time to look at this request. O’Leary thanks them and says, “Whatever we can do to support downtown businesses and visibility and safety would be great.” Safety is fine, but what about atmosphere? Mood? And leaving-shit-alone-its-fine? Though whatever this costs, I suppose it is negligible compared to what we are now spending on Mile One.

Parking! Cuz, Always

The film crew for the TV show Rex has requested to rent further parking spaces downtown on a  few weekend days in December. Cllr jamieson expressed slight hesitation as it is the crucial retail season for downtown shops, but said the spots were not right on the central shopping strip, and reminded the public that there are garages they can park in, knowing full well we would all rather die alone in our homes than use a parking garage.

Cllr Hanlon says the work begins today to remove broken meters and put up signage marking areas for the temporary “timed free parking.” These zones will be clearly marked as either 2 or 4 hrs, and will be enforced via photographs, notes and markings. Tickets for staying longer will be $50. This is temporary and at the request of downtown businesses who rely on parking turnover for customers.

In 2019, the city will get new meter hardware as part of its 5 year Paid Parking Management Strategy. And before you tell everyone on the internet what kind of “meter hardware” YOU would get, Hanlon urges you to read the city’s 5 year Paid Parking Management Strategy as pretty much every single complaint or “helpful suggestion” is already dealt with in there.

Also if you read it, you can complain with a full sense of righteous superiority to the rest of the complainers. And that will make you a winner.

Property Assessments, and How to Fight Them

According to Cllr Lane, our property assessments went out online and in the mail. He says the Deputy Mayor suggested he take his five minutes to explain what we can do if we have questions. If you are not tickety-boo with your assessment you can call the city assessors’ office, (709) 570-2018, and they will put you in touch with whoever did yours specifically.

You can verify with them the specific attributes/characteristics of your home they used to compare to other homes to get the value. If there are errors, the assessor can correct them without a formal process for free. If that doesn’t work you may take it further by paying $60 to put in a formal appeal.

Namaste

Mayor Dan reminded Cllr Collins to attend Cllr Jamieson’s charity yoga event  this week. Collins blushed and said, “I thought they forgot about that.” This council is so cute I may quit. Someone told me in frustration that they are voting for Galgay next election just to stop all this harmony and make my columns “good again.” Sigh.

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