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Notes From the Rafters: 23 June, 2020

in Featured/Notes From the Rafters by

Six year-old Louie Whalen won the St. John’s Days competition for kids where the city solicited art expressing what kids love about St John’s. I hope to Christ’s Bologna Stick that Little Louie is like the rest of you and doesn’t watch the council meetings, because Mayor Dan actually prefaced announcing him the winner with “All the art was so good we couldn’t choose, so we picked a name at random.” There were only 25 entries.

My daughter made a video for it. It was so bad I told her I would not enter it because it was insulting to contestants who were actually making art. She looked hurt and I worried for a minute I was giving her imposter syndrome, as I’ve heard so many young artists say they suffer from this. But on the other hand, I have seen a lot of “art” downtown. Somebody needs to tell someone something. 

Anyway, I’m sure the city not bothering to judge their own competition was truly a sign that all the works were equally beautiful.

68 Queen’s Rd: The Queen is Dead! Long Live the Queen!

Council has voted to re-consult the public since the developer re-vamped the Land Use Assessment Report for the high profile Parish Hall development. And its profile is still high, just spun 90 degrees on the hill.

Cllr Burton asked staff to start (as soon as the full guidelines for Alert Level 2 are released) figuring out options for some sort of hybrid in-person and online public engagement process. According to Burton, 132 people showed up for the first round and that will likely be too many for Covid times. 

Everyone pretty much agreed that they need in-person and online options. Maybe the last time council will be in such agreement on this project?

Keith’s Diner in The Gould’s was approved for an extension

This garnered many enthusiastic letters of support. That is all, but people lose their minds for Keith’s so figured I should tell you. The fish burger is pretty tight.

Also an ice cream parlour and cafe is going in at 673 Topsail Rd. 

Quarry No-Sir-ee

Council unanimously rejected a proposal to open a quarry off the TCH in an area already identified as a potential future watershed for the city. Not only did they vote against it, Cllr Froude was “surprised” the province would “put it forward” to the city to begin with. Staffer Sinyard said, not without a commiserating eye-roll directed at #nlgov (he wasn’t on a video feed but you could pretty clearly hear his eyes rolling in fellowship with Froude), “It is standard practice for [them] to forward [all of these] along for the city to deal with.”

36 Cabot St., and the curious case of the public notification loophole in The Battery

Someone wants to subdivide the lot at the corner of Battery Rd and Cabot Ave to allow two new building lots. That is not the interesting part. The interesting part is that IF you think that is either interesting or objectionable or anything in between and you live in that neighbourhood, you may not even have known it was proposed. And Everyone in the Battery knows everything. Due to some odd historical hiccup—call it the floating ovaries of development by-laws—the regulations regarding notifying the public about developments in the Battery are still archaic while the rest of the city has evolved. Within the Battery, as far as I understand from the discussion in council, the city only has to notify immediate neighbours (possibly only within 150 Meters of a proposed development). Everywhere else in the city, notifications have to go out generally/widely.

This will change as per the “Envision” report of updated comprehensive development regulations, but, until that is complete: dassit.

Since none of the immediate neighbours who were notified wrote to object, staff recommended approval. Cllr Burton proposed deferring the vote until the city notified the residents more generally and had what would pass for normal public consultation in any other neighbourhood.

Mayor Dan said, “to be clear, we did proper advertising and did proper consultation?” If by “proper” he means “did not take one teensy step more than the letter of a very specific and soon to be changed by-law,” then… yes.

Council did vote to defer, in seeming deference to what the new development regulations will soon require of them. But Mayor Dan, Cllr Korab and Cllr Collins dissented. 

Georgestown, Oh Georgestown, you Beautiful Narcissistic Nosey Neighbourhood

The City is making up “neighbourhood profiles.” The boundaries for some 28 neighbourhoods will be used to help collect city-wide data and, also, Cllr Hickman thinks the whole “identifying characteristics” etc. is “one of the most progressive things I’ve seen.” It sounds overall benign and possibly useful for internal communications. BUT I have never felt so bad for a Ward 2 councillor as I did tonight. OF COURSE Cllr Jamieson “had gotten a lot of comments” from residents of Georgestown about the fact that G-town, in these profiles, is part of a larger area called “Churchill Park.” She looks like she wanted to be nowhere near this request or any ensuing discussion. And Mayor Breen put his eye roll in the most polite terms I have heard, saying that G-town “has a strong community thrust to it,” but that it simply cannot be its own neighbourhood. It is too small and it needs to sit the frig down and just be subsumed for this city document that will change nothing at all in real life.

Cllr Froude said he thought staff could come up with better names for each area that better reflected the neighbourhoods like Georgestown and Rabbittown. Which—given the current fraught conversations over Winston Churchill tributes—may be a good move long term. But it does not take away from the absolute Georgestown-ness of Georgestown being the only place that wanted to demand more input into their image.

Cllr Korab saved everyone by pointing out that this was only “in phase 1” and that it can be altered as it goes along and may even have more designated neighbourhoods not just name changes; though Breen clearly said no way Georgestown can have it’s own playmat. It will have to share one way or another. But we shall see—he has no idea how brazen the sharers-of-unsolicited-advice can be this side of Monkstown. There is nothing like living up on top of a hill for looking down on everyone else.

Cllr Collins asked if Heavy Tree Road could be added and Breen indulgently explained that every street in the city was in there. 

Traffic in Quidi Vidi

If a “Not In My Back Yard” is a NIMBY, then a “What About My Ward” is a WAMW (silent final W, pronounced like the duo of yore). And Cllr Korab made sure he WAMWED it up for his constituents. Everyone was in agreement that the long ongoing traffic issues in QV need something. Council has decided to try speed bumps (temporary at first) and then more parking away from the village across the bridge in the 2021 budget.

Everyone seemed on board. But Korab then got so obstructionist for a moment it was hard to tell he wasn’t actually disagreeing. He just was making very clear in no uncertain tone, that these speed bumps better not be jumping the queue on the traffic calming priority list! Because if they were… he would demand at least FIVE traffic calming measures in HIS ward jump the queue too! 

Cllr Jamieson made it equally clear she wanted nothing less than to be the one making decisions about what went where on that most emotionally triggering of queues. Korab, still red in the face, became less hysterical as everyone bolstered Jamieson by saying that they had all already agreed in the Committee of the Whole that this was going into the queue like everything else. It doesn’t need to jump because due to the criteria used to rate/sort what gets done when this would already be “at least” a “2 or higher”

Only Cllr Hickman seemed like he missed that memo, “it isn’t immediate?” No. But soon my pretties… soon. 

Bannerman!

  1. Staff is preparing the RFP for the old Beavertails spot by The Loop so if you want to set up “Toutania” in that little shed for me to eat off, please get planning! 
  2. Council is also moving to get space park-adjacent for a mobile food vendor to lease. Do you hear that, taco trucks?! Or, alternatively, didn’t Amy Anthony leave Bannerman Brewery recently? If we all dream hard enough can we magic her and her old recipes from The Ship (Golden Girls puns and all) over to the park for the summer?

Photo by Graham Kennedy.

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