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

City Council
Head lice (clinics) welcome. Old age homes on agricultural land not.

No Proclamations; No Arguments;
Big love for Protecting Agriculture Zoning

There were piles of people up in the gallery this week. Multigenerational, lots of family groups, practical clothing.

These are Cllr Collins’ constituents. But they aren’t here to cause trouble for the small business at 18 Durdle Drive (off Goulds Main Rd near Keith’s Diner). This head lice removal clinic will operate in an accessory building in a residential area.

In a move that makes me love The Goulds even more than usual, no neighbours objected. It will be open 7 days a week from 9am-9pm for appointments or drop-in, and I love them so much for starting this business. I cannot wait to outsource the inevitable horror of my child’s head lice. God (and parents) love home entrepreneurs!

The crowds are here for (or rather against) a proposal for a 3 story, 66 unit personal care (old age) home on 296 Ruby Line. This was brought to council in August, but was deferred pending a traffic report. The report, and staff, say “no problemo, go ahead.” But Cllr Burton moves rejection.

This is an application for “discretionary use” of land in an area zoned for agriculture. Cllr Collins says they turned down the same thing in the Goulds 2 years ago, and this should never have come into the agriculture zone. It puts pressure on farmers.

He says there is a sheep farm on one side, dairy farm growing hay on another, and a horse farm. It is all agriculture, so how this proposal “got so far is beyond [him].” He points out that large paved parking areas cause runoff issues and washouts. He said there is only a small shoulder on that road, and it can’t be widened because of the drainage.

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary concurs with Collins. She, and the rest of council, say that they are aware of our aging population and know that these developments are needed, but that this is the wrong place.

On the one hand we have an aging population, on the other we have massive food security issues. Mitigating one should not be done in a way that exacerbates the other. Cllr Jamieson speaks to this too, emphasizing the lack of available healthy food.

Cllr Froude wants to look into how this got so far to begin with, and “would like to shut the door on this” in the future, by looking at the fundamental zoning regulations that led to this being a possible discretionary use in agricultural zone at all.

Cllr Froude wants to look into how this got so far to begin with, and “would like to shut the door on this” in the future, by looking at the fundamental zoning regulations that led to this being a possible discretionary use in agricultural zone at all

Mayor Dan suggests that Froude work with the Planning Department to look at this and bring it back to the Committee of the Whole.

Cllr Burton, always ready with historical context and relevant research like the glorious Velma she is, gives a brief history of the Special Land Advisory Act created in 1973.

She says every review since has recommended “further deletion” of agricultural land, because plots were considered too small to be a farm. She says we have learned that small businesses and small farms can operate on small land. [In fact Cllr Froude ran a backyard farm/CSA until he was elected to council.]

Cllr Burton, like Cllr Collins, points out the lack of sidewalks. (This is a theme for her, so look for it to become an issue when developing regulations.) She asks (rhetorically) if it is wise planning to have a 66 person seniors home in an area where you can’t get around as a pedestrian?

Cllr Korab emphasizes the proposal’s unpopularity with residents (as illustrated by their attendance).

It is rejected unanimously and the whole gallery breaks into applause.

City Spending and Redefining “Traffic”

On the theme of recognizing pedestrians, later in the meeting Cllr Froude rejected the idea of paying for a traffic counter that does not count cyclists and pedestrians along with cars.

He suggested they find one that counts all modes of transportation and if that does not exist, that they have a plan in place for how to count beyond cars.

The city is going back to leasing landfill compactors for Robinhood Bay. They leased in the past, but thought owning would be cheaper. Turns out they were wrong.

I’m not sure if this is a sign of good management and constant examination of costs or just a waste of money going back and forth caused by poor planning. Can it be both? I can’t help but feel like all this nitpicking is positive. Stacking council with nerds could be a win for the taxpayers.

The Quidi Vidi boathouse and surrounding area will be spruced up for the 2019 regatta to the tune of ~2.4 million dollars. St John’s <3’s the regatta.

The Quidi Vidi boathouse and surrounding area will be spruced up for the 2019 regatta to the tune of ~2.4 million dollars.

The Iceberg Alley concert series is asking permission to block dates and plan for 2019. Cllr Jamieson, citing concerns of nearby residents, has asked this be referred to the COTW, and the organizer be invited so he can “flesh out” some of this in more detail.

Nothing much else happened that won’t be covered again at a future meeting, and why write today what I can make fun of tomorrow? Korab called the Team Gushue Highway the “Team Korab” highway, but in a way that implied it was a running joke that he was playing into.

Local-celebrity-dad-jokes aside, this was that stereotype that I never actually believed in — a boring meeting. I guess it happens to the best of councils. See you next week!

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