What Odds at City Hall: 11 October 2022

Bowring Park slated for bridge repair, SurrealEstate is getting a road closed, and Cllr Ravencroft delivers a monologue on issues in Ward 2.
St. John's City Hall on New Gower Street.
St. John’s City Hall. Photo by Elizabeth Whitten.

The regular City Council meeting took place on a Tuesday due to Monday being a holiday. All Councillors were present.

Source Atlantic Ltd secured a bid—for $33,625.40 (HST excluded)—to provide gloves that will be stocked at the City’s Central Stores location.

The contract is for a year, with two one-year optional terms, said Cllr Sandy Hickman.

Sole bidder Talon Energy Services Inc was tapped to undertake the necessary removal of an existing deteriorating pedestrian bridge at Bowring Park. It will cost $144,894.19 (HST included).

A substantial amount of work has to be done by November 30 of this year, said Cllr Hickman.

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary asked for some information on its location for public knowledge.

Deputy City Manager of Planning, Engineering & Regulatory Services Jason Sinyard said it’s across from the Scotia Recycling Facility and across from the hospital.

Cllr Jamie Korab said this was talked about two years ago and he heard from many people who use that bridge. In fact, he has a photo of himself and his wife, who was expecting their first child at the time, in his office. But asked if there were other bridges that could be used, which Mr. Sinyard confirmed this was the case.

Invitations Sent Out

A decision note was the next item before Council regarding an advisory committee to inform a Creative Innovation District.

“The purpose of this committee will be to examine how we can create a Creative Innovation District that would support a creative sector, economic development sector in terms of startup businesses, in terms of artists of different areas,” said Mayor Breen.

They voted unanimously to approve invitations to serve on the advisory committee to explore considerations for a creative innovation district. 

These invitations are going out to:

  • Florian Villaumé, CEO, techNL
  • Dr. Paula Mendonça, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Memorial University
  • Justin Fong, Sales and Marketing Director, Quidi Vidi Brewery
  • Rhonda Tulk-Lane, CEO, MusicNL
  • Jennice Ripley, Executive Director, Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers CoOperative
  • Colin Corcoran, Vice President, Finance and Special Projects
  • Chrissy Dicks, Executive Director, Lawnya Vawnya 
  • Amy Henderson, Executive Director, Business and Arts NL
  • Chair, Mayor Danny Breen, Council lead, Economic Development

The television show SurrealEstate is getting a road closure to help with filming its second season.

Council voted to approve the closure of Trainor Place (which is off Stavanger Drive) from October 24 to October 28—just in time for spooky season.

So they’ve already gotten a control company for the road closure and local traffic and emergency vehicles will be granted access, said Cllr Debbie Hanlon.

SurrealEstate filming location at Trainor Place. (Source: City Agenda, 11 October 2022.)

The Go Round

Mayor Breen started it off with sending his condolences to the friends and family of John Perlin, who was an incredibly prolific activist and community organizer.

He then extended his congratulations to the Holy Cross women’s soccer team who got gold at the national women’s amateur soccer championship. As well, the Holy Cross Men’s team won bronze, and he added that both teams were coached by the same person.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary said that was a great bit of news to hear on the International Day of the Girl.

She said she’s received a number of compliments on the great work the City’s public work staff have done as of late, so she gave a shout out to them.

She then asked for an update on the naming process for City Streets, particularly with regards to naming them after artists.

City Clerk Karen Chafe said she referred O’Leary’s emails to the policy people and they’re almost at the end of their policy development and they’re hoping to finish it soon. They’re also looking at the cost of changing signs at certain intersections, so when they get that information they will refer it to its senior executive committee and legal department for review of the policy. Once it’s done, it will go to the Committee of the Whole.

Chafe added, “So I would say over the next month or two hopefully it will come to Council and then we can have that discussion.”

Cllr Maggie Burton let people know that cats are half off at the Humane Services, so they’re going for $69.

Cllr Hickman also spoke about the loss of John Perlin, who had a lot of influence on his council, career and volunteer life.

He also congratulated the Holy Cross teams, and that his nephew was on the team.

Cllr Ron Ellsworth also echoed comments about John Perlin, who he knew especially well during his time with the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Cllr Hanlon thanked Robin Dobbin and her team for their work during Seniors’ Weeks, as well as to everyone who showed up, including the volunteers and presenters.

She also brought up the City initiative REAL Program, formed to help get kids into activities by tackling the financial barriers to participating. She said Lester’s Farm Pumpkinfest has also been a supporter of the program for the last 15 years. It takes place throughout the month but on the 15th and 16th days the proceeds go to the REAL program and the Mount Pearl soccer.

As well, Cllr Hanlon said food insecurity is an ongoing topic of concern at the Inclusion Advisory committee. Food First NL has just launched the Food on the Move program to address some of the root causes of food insecurity.

Finally, October is also National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Cllr Jill Bruce reminded people that the Youth Forum is coming up next Tuesday, at 6 pm – 8 pm at the Forum Room. People can still sign up.

Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft said last week they were made aware of some issues due to two articles in The Telegram, one about homelessness and people who’d set up in the George Street stage, as well as Livingstone Street (now Tessier Park). She said the City is aware of these issues and they’re doing what they can within their power to address them.

“We at the City understand that homelessness is a serious issue,” said Cllr Ravencroft. “Partnerships with numerous community works can demonstrate this but we also understand that the key thing that needs to be done to eradicate homelessness is to provide housing.  And this is why we’ve been working as hard as we have to get the vacancy rate down over at the non-profit housing division of which I’m lead.”

She said the rate has gone down significantly, something she’s proud to see in her year on Council. As well, they’ve worked community partners to liaise with homeless people and those who are vulnerable in order to connect them with resources.

The Livingstone Street steps are going to be fixed up soon and last week Council signed on to calling on the province advocating for a guaranteed basic income, she added.

Cllr Ravencroft said she’s also meeting with other groups to aid the community to help address these issues.

“I hope this is indicative of the gravity to which I take this personally as ward councillor, and which we all take this at the City.”

She also wanted to clarify some details: the City of St. John’s non-profit housing division doesn’t have housing units on Livingstone Street. They have received comments that say they have dilapidated units on the street but that’s not accurate, though they are in the area.

“While we are deeply concerned about this, we are not the body that is responsible for those units,” Cllr Ravencroft explained.

She added money was recently announced that’s been allocated to repair some of the provincial units.

As well, she said anything to do with a criminal matter has to be referred to the RNC, though she sympathizes deeply with residents who would rather not and the comments about resources that might need addressing at the RNC. But she said the RNC is the body with jurisdiction over criminal issues.

She also asked people to support resources for housing first approaches, harm reduction principles, better mental health resources at the provincial level, and in addition, advocate for the introduction of a harm reduction site in the downtown.

“If you are a resident of one of these areas or a person who is dealing with populations like these, please be sensitive,” Cllr Ravencroft added. “At the end of the day, you may have heard endless amounts of discourse around ‘them’ who are causing problems in ‘our’ neighbour but at the end of the day we’re all neighbours. There is no view from the neighbours that doesn’t include the folks you’re pointing the finger at.”

There is no them and us, she said, there is only all of us together.

She then quipped that at this point in the meeting, they’d spent twice as much time in the Go Round than the actual agenda. “We flew through that thing like we owed it money.”

Cllr Korab said he was lucky enough to sit on the Fluvarium board with the late John Perlin.

He also congratulated the local soccer teams and Team Gushue for winning another grand slam.

Cllr Carl Ridgeley had a question about the Tely 10 Road Race on Saturday and had a few inquiries—one irate—and asked Deputy City Manager of Community Services Tanya Haywood to explain why it was on Saturday.

Haywood said the race taking place on a Saturday would be a one-time occurrence, and that it was due to the postponement during the summer over the heat and humidity. On top of that, there were issues over resources because parking enforcement and traffic assistance wasn’t available at other times. In addition, there were other races scheduled during October, so they had to find a time that wasn’t a conflict.

She added the committee is looking at the 2023 date and it will fall on a Sunday.

Cllr Ridgeley said there was a meeting on Tuesday at 7 pm for the people affected by Hurricane Earl at the Kilbride Community Centre at 7 pm. He explained it’s to gather information on how people are being affected. He encouraged people to come out.

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