What Odds at City Hall: 12 July 2022

Parish Lane Development is back before Council, restaurants are looking to go outdoors and a Nordic Spa looks to set up in the City.

We’re back for the first regular council meeting of the bi-weekly summer schedule—but despite the sheer number of items on the agenda, it went at a pretty fast pace.

All but Cllr Ian Froude were present for today’s council meeting.

First off, Mayor Danny Breen reminded us that this is the first week of St. John’s Pride, and with that there was a note that Healthy City St. John’s and Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador on creating inclusive environments during St. John’s Pride Week.

TJ Jones, the 2SLGBTQIA+ representative on the Citizen Inclusion Advisory Committee, said 

“Our first order of business is to look into developing a collaborative training module for City staff as well as organizations within business within our City.”

Memorial University’s Vice Provost Equity Diversity Inclusion and Anti-Racism Dr. Delores V. Mullings was also present and spoke of the work ahead.

Mayor Breen mentioned the schedule for Pride Week events will be posted to the City’s website soon. That is also when I noticed that his tie—which was partly obscured by his chunky mayoral necklace—was a rainbow.

Parish Lane Development Gets a Commissioner

An issue relating to Parish Lane Development’s condo complex at 68 Queen’s Road is back before Council.

Council appointed Chantelle MacDonald Newhook, QC, as an independent commissioner to conduct the public hearing and a virtual session for St. John’s Municipal Plan Amendment Number 1, 2022 and St. John’s Development Regulations Amendment Number 1, 2022.

She will conduct a public hearing in person on July 20, with a virtual session on Zoom on July 21. Her report—with recommendations—will be sent to Council and to Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs Krista Howell. It will be due within 30 days of the public hearing. 

Back on June 28, Council adopted the St. John’s Municipal Plan Amendment Number 1, 2022 and St. John’s Development Regulations Amendment Number 1, 2022 in regards to 68 Queen’s Road.

Parking Relief Brouhaha at Bannerman Brewing

Bannerman Brewing has gotten approval to set up an outdoor dining area and lounge at 90 Duckworth Street as a temporary part of the 2022 Parklet program. The outside area will be approximately 18.6 m² and located in front of the building.

The hours for the outside area will be from May 20 to October 31, seven days a week and from 7 am to 11 pm.

Bannerman Brewing also asked for temporary parking relief for two parking spaces.

The City received five submissions, three in favour and two against. Some of the issues raised were why the brewery needed parking relief.

One of them wrote that “parking on my street [censored] is complicated by this proposal, in that despite clearly marked permit parking, people tend to park when and wherever they please in order to access local businesses.” They added there have been plenty of instances when they haven’t been able to park their car near their home, and would like a plan to expand access for public parking “which would enable residents to then access permit parking.”

90 Duckworth Street. (Source: City Agenda, 12 July 2022.)

Council signed off on a Crown Land lease for approximately two hectares of land at 899 Northern Pond Road for a proposed telecommunications tower.

This was last before Council on June 28, when they voted to approve a discretionary use application sent by Eastlink to construct a telecommunications tower at 899 Northern Pond Road.

899 Northern Pond Road. (Source: City Agenda, 12 July 2022.)

They then rejected a proposal to re-establish the building line at 0 metres for parking area construction at 30 Lemarchant Road, citing safety concerns. 

30 Lemarchant Road. (Source: City Agenda, 12 July 2022.)

Classist Condo Meltdown at Cedar Hill Place

Council then approved the discretionary use application for an apartment building with six dwelling units at 33 Cedar Hill Place.

Back on April 18 the proponents Fairview Investments Limited—directed by Alice Noftall, Barry Clarke and Geoffrey Clarke—got a discretionary use application approved for 11 Cedar Hill Place.

This was voted on quickly like the other items before it, but I wanted to dive into this a few moments longer.

This time round there was one submission about the development. The sole complainant argued that “a six apartment complex will need a parking lot and the small housing feeling that currently exists will be lost. Who wants a parking lot (redacted)? If this was the initial plan then I would not have bought my house knowing this but that was not the case. I was led to believe a totally different situation. “

“A condo would be owned by a person or family and thus they would have pride in the property. An apartment building will have renters and I feel that the pride in keeping the community clean will be lost.”

I’m gonna stop here because it sounds pretty classist to argue that condo owners are better and more respectful than people who rent apartment buildings. A condo unit is just a fancy (and often overpriced) apartment, and it doesn’t say anything about the morality of those who avail of these properties.

This type of dismissive attitude is also rude to people who are renting either by choice or by circumstance, as if renters are a lower quality of tenant. And it perpetuates negative stereotypes about them, like they’re messy because—let’s read between the lines—they are assumed to be poorer than condo owners. And nevermind that condo owners can also lease them out to others for rent!

Anyway, reading that certainly got my blood pumping. Who needs cardio when I can read things like this.

33 Cedar Hill Place. (Source: City Agenda, 12 July 2022.)

It’s a Jungle Out There

Moving on to lighter fare, Jungle Jim’s at 357 Main Road is taking its dining outside after getting approval for an outdoor eating and lounge area, as well as parking relief for four parking spaces.

The application is from May 20 to October 31, each year. The outside area is approximately 49 m² and at the front of the building with its hours of operation for seven days a week from 11:30 am to 10 pm.

Cllr Jamie Korab did ask staff for some clarification on whether Jungle Jims meant to apply for this yearly, and Deputy City Manager of Planning, Engineering & Regulatory Services Jason Sinyard explained this was a permanent installation.

357 Main Road. (Source: City Agenda, 12 July 2022.)

Growing a Home Business

Someone at 410 Old Pennywell Road is starting a home-based hydroponic business to grow some leafy green vegetables.

The agenda noted it will happen in an accessory building that’s about 40 m². The produce won’t be sold on site so no clients will be dropping by.

One person wrote in to wish the business well: “Just a quick note to support the proposal of a home occupation for the production of leafy green vegetables. Anyone who can produce healthy home grown food for their own use and to provide a service to the community that is much needed everywhere I see no problem. With no clients visiting the property is a bonus. Good Luck!”

410 Old Pennywell Road. (Source: City Agenda, 12 July 2022.)

A Former Restaurant Turns Home

Council approved the first storey of 47 Harvey Road (aka the old Green Kitchen) being used as a dwelling unit.

Right now, that first storey has a commercial unit—which takes up 105 m²—which will become one dwelling unit. That said, building codes require 47 and 47A to have their own entryways into the building, wholly contained on their own property, said Cllr Korab.

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary spoke up to throw her support for this use, noting it’s a tricky area because it’s a cross with residential and commercial space. So she said this is the direction for the property.

A quick Google showed the owners have the property on the market going for $395,000.

47 Harvey Road. (Source: City Agenda, 12 July 2022.)

Council signed off on Ronald McDonald House’s plan to build a playground area, as well as landscaping in the floodplain and floodplain buffer at 150 Clinch Crescent.

According to the agenda the playground will have an upgraded play area with rubber surfacing, concrete walkways and small multicourt, landscape lighting and planting, an open pavilion, and perimeter fencing.

150 Clinch Crescent. (Source: City Agenda, 12 July 2022.)

Council will also consider a text amendment to the Envision St. John’s Development Regulations to allow for pedway developments to cross property boundaries.

This came from an application from 55732 NL Inc. (KMK Capital Inc.) who want to develop a pedway between 110 Hebron Way and the building that will be built at 15 Verafin Way, said Cllr Maggie Burton.

The amendment will be advertised for public review and comment.

110 Hebron Way and 15 Verafin Way. (Source: City Agenda, 12 July 2022.)

Nordic Spa Alert! (Build It and We’ll See if They Come)

Following up on that, Council voted to consider a text amendment to the Envision St. John’s Development Regulations to consider rural tourism uses within the Rural Residential Zone. The move was prompted by a potential Nordic spa development at 1274 Blackhead Road, which is on the road to Cape Spear, said Cllr Burton.

So once Council has the Land Use Report, they’ll refer the application to a virtual public meeting chaired by an independent facilitator for public input and feedback. Residents in the surrounding area should have the opportunity to get information and participate in the public engagement process, she said.

While no business name or person was named in the agenda, The Independent was able to confirm it’s Iceavik Nordic Spa & Village, which is directed by realtor Rebecca Bezanson.

The agenda has the general outline for what shape the Nordic spa would take. It will combine spa services with lodging in a rural setting. There will be a main building, treatment domes, sauna structures, a yoga dome, a warming dome, and sleeping domes. (Sadly, there are no signs of any energy domes.)

The business will operate all year round and have approximately 18 employees. It will be open  from 10 am to 7 pm initially, and might later expand to 9 am to 9 pm. Guests will have day passes to use all services. The owner anticipates there will be between 100 to 125 guests a day, with 12 of the guests staying overnight. There are three sleeping domes proposed, each with a four-person capacity.

1274 Blackhead Road. (Source: City Agenda, 12 July 2022.)

I went to one of these a few months ago during my trip to Ottawa and it was quite fancy. There’s also another company considering starting a Nordic spa in Flatrock.

Adding (and Subtracting) Some Bike Lanes

Council approved the painted bike lane pavement marking maintenance. There will also be letters distributed to residents on the affected streets that will explain why the bike lanes are being repainted or removed, what it means for their parking and garbage bin placement. There will also be info on how they can reach City staff with questions or concerns.

There will also be a 30-day enforcement grace period after pavement markings are completed, where Parking Services will leave notices or warnings on vehicles instead of issuing tickets.

Maps of various bike lanes (planned or existing) around St. John’s. (Source: City Agenda, 12 July 2022.)

The current networks are Airport Heights Drive, Viscount Street, Cowan Avenue and Mundy Pond Road, said Cllr Burton.

She said if you had a bike lane painted in your area where the bike plan doesn’t recommend there be a transportation route, it will not be repainted. Information about what this means for issues like garbage will arrive in your mailbox.

Cllr Jill Bruce said she was glad to see this come back and it’s important to have a way to connect Airport Heights to the rest of St. John’s and this allows experienced bike riders and children or adults just getting into riding to get safely from one end of Airport Heights to the other, and across to the Virginia trail.

Cllr Korab said this isn’t part of the Canada Drive Active Transportation and Road Safety Improvements project.

Appointments to City Boards

Tyler Stapleton got the nod to join the Built Heritage Experts Panel as its newest member.

He’ll be stepping into the spot vacated by Nicholas Lynch, who told City staff in April he would no longer be able to participate as a member. That same month there was a call out for members, which was advertised in The Telegram and on the City website.

There were nine applications, and ultimately staff recommended Stapleton for Council’s approval. 

For a bit of background info, Stapleton is a sitting member on the Board of Directors of the NL Historic Trust.

Council then followed that up by appointing Saadia Jamila Mary Azam to the Youth Engagement Working Group.

She’s stepping into the spot previously held by Nicholas Hillier, who announced he was resigning at the June 7 meeting. So staff didn’t need to turn to a public call because all membership applications remain on file for a period of two years for consideration for cases like this.

Grainger Canada secured a $47,279.61 (HST excluded) contract to provide vending units for fleet shop supplies and consumables. The vending units will be located in the Fleet Maintenance Garage.

The contract is for one year with the possibility of four, one year extensions, said Cllr Sandy Hickman

The other bid was from MSC Industrial Supply Inc. for $71,397.20.

A $4 Million Salty Surprise

A. Harvey & Company Limited, for $4,007,000 per year (HST not included), got the contract to supply the salt for winter road maintenance. It was also the sole bidder.

The contract is for one year with two possible one-year extensions.

This open call was completed by the Provincial government on the City’s behalf, said Cllr Hickman.

Mayor Breen remarked that was quite a number and asked how it compared to previous years. 

Deputy City Manager of Public Works Lynnann Winsor said she could get that information.

Action Car and Truck Accessories for $116,767.38 (HST excluded) was awarded a contract to replace two service truck bodies for water and sewer maintenance.

The delivery is set on or before December 16.

The other bid came from NL Lightbars and Offroad Accessories but the agenda didn’t include the cost.

Pyramid Construction Limited—the sole bidder—was awarded a contract valued at $501,026.25 (HST Included) to undertake the necessary bridge rehabilitation works at the Blackhead Road Bridge over the Waterford River.

It also has to be substantially completed by October 28, added Cllr Hickman.

“Take notice that I will at the next regular meeting of Council move a motion to remove the Heritage Building designation on the annex portion of George Street United Church at 25 Buchanan Street and 130 George Street West,” said Cllr Burton.

Council approved the front entrance restoration at 74 Circular Road, a designated Heritage Building. Its previous famous occupants include Hon. James D Ryan, Sir Michael Cashin and Premier Joey Smallwood.

“The applicant is proposing to replace aluminum columns on the front entrance with wood columns, as well as repair the cement base, tile the front steps, and repair cedar decking,” said Cllr Burton.

“From the Heritage By-Law, the original style of decks and balconies on Heritage Buildings are to be maintained. Modern materials can be permitted if the appearance replicates the building’s period/architectural characteristics. Staff have no concerns with this proposed renovations and neither do I.”

Deputy Mayor O’Leary added that it’s great to see people take the initiative when it comes to heritage structures like this one.

It’s also for sale! If you happen to have $1,850,000 kicking around—and love Queen Anne Revival—this could be yours.

74 Circular Road, as it once was. (Source: City Agenda, 12 July 2022.)

There have been some “minor” changes required to the Respectful Workplace Policy to comply with provincial Occupational Health and Safety requirements.

Cllr Ron Ellsworth said this is an information note and so Council doesn’t make a decision on it. The policy review happens on an annual basis.

If you’re interested in reading it you can check it out on the agenda, starting on page 131.

Taking to the Road

The Tely 10 is happening and that comes with road closures.

It starts on July 24 at 8 am in Paradise and ends approximately at 11 am in Bannerman Park.

So the road closures will be:

  • Bannerman Road (July 23, 2:00 pm to July 24, 2 pm)
  • Circular Road (July 24, 5 am to 12 pm)
  • Military Road Bonaventure Avenue/Garrison Hill to Cochrane Street (July 24, 7:30 am – 12:00 pm)
  • Topsail Rd @ Burgeo St. to Topsail Rd/Cornwall Avenue (July 24; No eastbound traffic from 8 am to 11 am)
  • Cornwall Avenue/Hamilton Avenue/LeMarchant Road/Harvey Road/Military Road (July 24; No Eastbound and Westbound traffic: 8 am to 11:30 am)
  • Columbus Drive from Topsail Road to Bay Bulls Road (July 24; both directions closed 8 am to 11 am)

The Go Round

Deputy Mayor O’Leary said she and Cllr Burton had met with some environmentalists earlier in the day who were tree planting in Lundrigan’s Marsh, which the City protects.

“I just want to give a big shout out to the Stewardship Association of Municipalities folks, certainty Zach Burrows and the Nature Conservancy staff that were there today,” O’Leary said.

Over the last few weeks the City has also been busy with festivities and lucky to have such great weather, noting the Folk Festival happened over the weekend at Bannerman Park, finally resuming after a two-year hiatus.

She also spoke about the Tickle Swim For Mental Health, which is in its 10th year and will take place on September 17 (with a backup date on September 18). She said they’re looking to raise $50,000.

Cllr Burton said she planted about 12 black spruce trees this morning and got to see a number of animals that live in the area, like ducks and birds (and possibly also a moose). She also thanked the conservationists for their work creating a tree buffer line.

She also wished everyone a happy Pride Week.

Cllr Hickman said he’d gotten an email from Winsor, who said the cost of salt has gone up 20 percent since last year, which he said was not unexpected.

Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft said she wanted to recognize Dr. Mullings and TJ Jones and others for “the incredible work they’ve been doing with the [Citizen Inclusion Advisory Committee] and with the community more broadly, to ensure that as we’re coming into Pride that more members of the community are seen, heard and represented. And that we have more responsive faces everywhere in this City and beyond.”

She also encouraged youths to get involved with the City.

“I’ll be satisfied when there’s 11 queers on Council,” she added.

She also congratulated the Folk Festival for its success over the weekend, adding that “as a recovering ethnomusicologist and music historian and practicing metal fan, [the return of live music is] an issue of considerable importance to me.” As well, she pointed to how well the Pedestrian Mall is doing.

Cllr Ravencroft also highlighted that on this Thursday Irma Gerd will be on Canada’s Drag Race—so mark your calendars and set your recorders.

Cllr Carl Ridgeley said since construction started in the Goulds and Kilbride, there have been plenty of calls about the Metrobus. But he was happy to announce the regular bus route is back to normal on Doolings Line to Shoal Bay Road in the Goulds, though work is still being done on the Kilbride portion.

Finally, he reminded people that this Saturday is the annual Shea Heights Community Folk Festival.

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter.

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