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Carving Up Colonial Street

First off on the agenda, the council approved a 10% Variance on the rear yard setback for a 5.4-meter at 3 Colonial Street.

Cllr Jamie Korab said an application was submitted to subdivide the rear yard of 3 Colonial Street and reconfigure the extra land with abutting properties at 5 Colonial Street and 90 Gower Street. It’s in the Residential Downtown Zone, where the minimum Rear Yard setback is 6 metre. The Rear Yard setback proposed at 3 Colonial Street is 5.4 metres, so it requires a 10% Variance.

Cllr Debbie Hanlon said the submitter is her uncle and wondered if this qualified as a conflict of interest. City Solicitor Cheryl Mullett said no, because there’s no financial gain so Hanlon should be fine.

I was once again watching Council from home and I couldn’t hear what Cllr Hanlon’s said next but I clearly heard Mayor Danny Breen repond “No, you would be in conflict” with Mullett chiming in, “Yeah, now that’s different.”

A quick phone call after the meeting and Cllr Hanlon explained to me that as a realtor, she had sold that property to her uncle and his partner. And when the couple does sell the property, she’ll be the agent for that too. So Cllr Hanlon abstained from voting and the motion was carried.

Then Council signed off on a 3.35 metre Building Line to accommodate a front porch extension at 34 O’Neil Avenue.

Another variance was also okayed, this time a 10% Variance on Lot Frontage for a proposed Building Lot adjacent to 72 Howlett’s Line. Cllr Korab said someone has applied to subdivide and reconfigure land to create new building lots adjacent to 72 Howlett’s Line, in the Rural Residential Infill Zone, which means there is a minimum Lot Frontage requirement of 30 metres.

Emergency Plans, Batteries, and Regatta Awards

A new Emergency and Continuity Management Policy and Rescission of Related Policies was also approved. The Council didn’t go into detail about this but the online agenda states the City does have an Emergency Management Plan, a requirement of the provincial Emergency Services Act. While it was updated sometime this year, the Manager of Emergency and Safety Services—in consultation with the City Internal Auditor—did an assessment of the City’s emergency and continuity management processes in relation to the Canadian Standards Association Standard. From that, it was recommended they develop a policy that would create an overall approach to emergency and continuity program management, planning, implementation, and review/evaluation.

The council also approved the purchase of new batteries for the Windsor Lake Water Treatment Plant, with funds coming from the Windsor Lake WTP Equipment Reserve Fund. Cllr Sandy Hickman said the replacement battery cost, including installation and testing, is $47,766.41 + HST.

The Council also agreed to fund the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony luncheon and provide funding for half the cost of the annual Awards Dinner.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary said “this is money that is set aside for these kinds of events.”

The agenda breaks down the potential costs as well, explaining there is funding in the City’s Civic Events Budget to cover the cost of these events with the St. John’s Regatta Committee. Depending on the events and number of people who attend, the cost for the luncheon could range $2,500 to $5,000, and the dinner event could be $10,000 to $12,000.

Much Ado About Mixed-Use Neighbourhoods

19 King’s Bridge Road—which previously belonged to the Anglican Church of Canada—is also closer to getting rezoned. It’s currently in the Institutional  Zone and Council said it will consider rezoning it as Commercial Neighbourhood Zone, which would allow it to be used as an office, clinic, and other commercial uses.

Before regaining his seat on council, Cllr Ron Ellsworth was the real estate agent for the property so he sat out on voting on this matter.

Cllr Maggie Burton gave a shout out to more mixed-use neighbourhoods built in the City and encouraged people to read up on the development regulations.

“The Commercial Neighbourhood Zone is a really flexible one that’s meant to encourage compatible uses within residential areas but also just to help create a more mixed use in the city,” she said, adding she’s looking forward to this public meeting.

AMEC Foster Wheeler (Wood Weather) was awarded a $436,886.30 (excluding HST) contract to Road Weather Information and Weather Forecasting Services. Cllr Hickman said this work helps with snow clearing and ice control in the City. There were two bids, and AMEC ranked the highest scoring bid.

During last week’s meeting, Mayor Breen asked the council to defer the decision to appoint two people to sit on the 2025 Canada Summer Games Host Society Board of Directors. So it’s back on the agenda and they have tapped Deputy City Manager, Department of Community Services Tanya Haywood to sit on the board to represent staff and Cllr Hickman will be there to represent the City.

Finally, the Council granted $20,000 from the 2021 Capital Out Of Revenue funding surplus for the George Street Prince Edward Park and Main Stage Revitalization Concept Plan

The Go-Around: Growlers Edition

Mayor Breen started off the Go-Round by giving a statement about the decision to suspend the Growlers from Mile One pending the outcome of an investigation into disrespectful workplace  conduct allegations.

He said he knew this news has been difficult for Growlers fans who were looking forward to the upcoming season opener, adding that he appreciated the impact this will have on businesses, particularly downtown businesses who see spin off activity on game nights.

He said he’s heard from people who’ve questioned this decision. Breen said it had nothing to do with the Growlers’ recent announcement that it intended to build a new arena.

Following that, he addressed the issue around ticket sales. He explained that while they did have a problem that delayed the City in selling tickets as of October 20, Breen said they were close to having that issue resolved.

“As with any workplace harassment investigation, things have been evolving quickly. Last week was clear to the Board and Council that we could not, for the wellbeing and mental health of staff at the former Mile One Centre, go ahead with at least the first six games of the season.”

He added there has been a lot of speculation about why this matter couldn’t have been resolved in a different manner, and he understood that. However, he reiterated that he can’t go into detail of the multiple allegations currently being investigated.

He asked the public to be patient and understanding for all parties in this difficult situation.

Moreover, he said Growlers-owner Deacon Sports and Entertainment has filed a notice of default, which Breen said they expected would happen.

“This is both a legal matter and an active occupational health and safety matter,” said Mayor Breen. “On behalf of the Board and Council, we all want this matter resolved as quickly as possible.”

Deputy Mayor O’Leary also concurred with his comments, reminding Councillors they aren’t at liberty to divulge details until the investigation is complete by an independent solicitor.

In lighter news, she also added the annual Pumpkin Walk in Bannerman Park scheduled for Monday had been moved to the following day due to poor weather.

Cllr Burton also alluded to the situation with the Growlers, thanking the public and businesses for their patience as they navigated the situation.

Cllr Hickman reminded the public that organic waste in paper bags can now be picked up during garbage days.

As Council representative on the Clean St. John’s board of directors, Cllr Jill Bruce said in December that Clean St. John’s will be presenting its annual Golden Broom Award. They are currently seeking nominations for the Youth Award, School Award, Residential, Corporate, and Retail Business Award.

Like Cllr Burton, Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft also extended her appreciation to the public for their patience at this time. “It’s good to know that I’m surrounded by people who are concerned for the wellbeing of our employees and that we’re doing what we can to keep people safe.”

She also noted that as the first elected goth, she forgot to wish everyone a Happy Halloween last week—adding she wasn’t even wearing all black today.

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Elizabeth Whitten is a St. John's-based journalist and The Independent's St. John's municipal politics reporter. She's previously worked for allNewfoundlandLabrador and Downhome Magazine, and her work has been published by CBC, The Overcast, and the Toronto Star. She's currently writing a book about how Dr. Cluny Macpherson invented the gas mask in World War One.