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Once again, due to the pandemic, City Hall is shuttered to basically everyone and all the councillors were tuning in from home.

First on the agenda, Council gave the go-ahead for a Discretionary Use application for a family home childcare operation at 515 Newfoundland Drive.

Cllr Jamie Korab said the home childcare business—which will be operated by the homeowner —will accommodate six children. It will run from Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on-site parking is provided.

He said the City received one letter that raised the concern around extra traffic to the residential neighbourhood, which also happens to be in a cul-de-sac. However, Transportation Engineering reviewed the proposal and found no issue.

The Majestic Getting Some Razzle Dazzle?

It looks like someone is trying to once again revive the Majestic Theatre.

The Council gave some enthusiastic approval for a Discretionary Use application for both Place of Assembly (Theatre) and Lounge at 390 Duckworth Street as well as 20 parking spaces.

Cllr Korab said the theatre will be on the floor off of New Gower Street. Meanwhile the lounge is located on the lower floor off Duckworth Street. It will operate seven days a week, from 6 p.m. to midnight, with 25 employees there. As well, the proposed application site is in the Commercial Downtown Mixed Zone.

He added the City received four letters about the project, all in favour.

The Majestic Theatre at the corner of Duckworth and New Gower in downtown St. John’s. Screenshot via Google Street View.

The City agenda says the application is from Hanlon Realty and Cllr Debbie Hanlon said it’s actually from Terra Bruce, adding that one of Cllr Hanlon’s relatives runs Hanlon Realty—but he isn’t involved in the project.

Mayor Danny Breen said “I’m quite pleased with this application. It’s great to see the Majestic theater turn back to its use as an entertainment place in the downtown, in the City. It has a long history and as Cllr Korab alluded to, there’s been many uses of the building.”

He added the Terra Bruce application is going to be “quite exciting.”

Fun fact, the old Majestic Theatre is a pretty historic building. The mob that would descend upon Colonial Building in April 1932 to ruffle the corrupt Prime Minister Richard Squires started at the theatre.

Flurry of Tenders

Honeywell Limited secured a bid to develop and implement a “self-funded” Energy Savings Performance Contract to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The contract is valued for one year but it can be extended for up to three years. However there was no mention either in the meeting or the agenda as to the contract’s value.

The other bids came from Ameresco Canada Inc. and MCW Custom Energy Solutions Ltd, and the prices also weren’t listed in the agenda.

The City also awarded a $10,425 per year (plus HST) contract to Windco Enterprises Ltd. for the installation/opening and removal/securing of sports field safety netting at ten sports fields in the City. The value is for one year but the contract is for five years, with an option to renew for an additional five years.

The only other bid came from Neil Pittman’s 86790 Newfoundland & Labrador Limited for $11,550.

The next two tenders on the agenda are linked to the same work, said Cllr Sandy Hickman.

Deputy City Manager of Planning and Engineering Jason Sinyard explained the tenders are related to improvements that came out of the Torbay Road North Traffic Study. To do some of the improvements they need to make some changes to two locations, which the tenders will provide for.

So first up, Bell secured a $105,579.50 (HST excluded) contract for the relocation of cables from underground to aerial on Torbay Road. 

Likewise, Newfoundland Power was awarded a contract for the replacement/relocation of poles along Torbay Road, from Majors Path to Stavanger Drive (driven by the City’s Lane addition project). The contract is valued at $118,411.83 (HST excluded).

Moving on, this next contract is for services of external companies for materials testing and quality control of soil and aggregates, concrete, and hot mix asphalt. It was split between all five bidders: Englobe Corp, Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions (a Division of Wood Canada Limited), EXP Services Inc., AllRock Consulting Limited, and Allnorth Consulting Limited.

The work is for $74, 544.50 each (HST included) and Cllr Hickman explained that the Right of First Refusal will be given to the vendor with the lowest bid, and subsequent vendors may be contacted in order of ranking until the service can be fulfilled as the work will be performed as a Right of First Refusal.

The City is also going to lease City land adjacent to 13 George Street—O’Reilly’s Irish Newfoundland Pub—so two propane tanks can be installed.

Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft said the year lease price is $45 per year (plus HST) and a one-time administrative fee of $300 (plus HST). As well, the lease will be subject to the insurance meeting the requirements of the City’s Manager, Enterprise Risk and Insurance.

Apothecary Hall at 488 Water Street is getting some new signage on it’s western side, facing Brennan Street.

Cllr Maggie Burton said Apothecary Hall is located within the Commercial District and is zoned Commercial Downtown, within Heritage Area 3. On top of that, it’s been designated municipally as a Heritage Building and provincially as a Registered Heritage Structure.

The signs meet requirements under By-law, she noted.

Also—as a side note—if you haven’t had the chance to visit you should at the next opportunity.

Inside Apothecary Hall. Photo by Elizabeth Whitten.

The Go Round

Mayor Breen got it started with noting the passing of two people who made their mark on the province, Bill Hogan and Edward Roberts.

Hogan was a former mayor of Dunville and an MHA, as well as an avid athletics supporter, noted Mayor Breen.

Roberts—who Mayor Breen said was “no stranger to any of us”—was the former Lieutenant-Governor, a cabinet minister and MHA, as well as a proponent of the province’s, and city’s, history.

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary also recognized the death of another important political figure, that of former NDP leader Alexa McDonough. She said the politician helped break down gender roles in politics.

She then had a practical question about Newfoundland Power poles, asking about pole replacements throughout the city. She noted certain areas that have had poles replaced, but the secondary poles haven’t been removed. She wanted to know who the City should approach about these issues.

Deputy City Manager of Planning and Engineering Sinyard they have connections in Newfoundland Power and have been improving their relationships recently, so he’d reach out about the timely removal of poles.

O’Leary’s second pole-related question was about when a pole gets replaced in the concrete sidewalk, sometimes with the freeze and thaw, the square around the pole lifts and sets. So she wondered who has the responsibility for this: the city or Newfoundland Power?

Deputy City Manager of Planning and Engineering Sinyard said he wasn’t familiar with the issue around upheaval of the sidewalk, but said if it’s in relation to a pole Newfound Power planted, they would be “on the hook for any damages to our sidewalk.”

O’Leary ended her segment with a Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Cllr Hickman also reminded people the downtown parking ban from 12:30 a.m. to 7:40 a.m. is now in effect, noting that “no matter the road conditions, they will ticket you. It could be a beautiful foggy night with no snow on the ground and you are eligible to get a ticket.”

Cllr Hanlon said Minister Sarah Stoodley is hosting a Virtual Consultations on Buildings Accessibility on January 27 from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. People have to register online through EventBrite.

In addition, she said the provincial government is calling for proposals for the Newfoundland and Labrador Multiculturalism Grant Program.

As well, she wished a very happy birthday to Philomena Broderick of Gander, who turned 100 last week and suggested that Mayor Breen send her a letter.

Cllr Ravencroft also echoed Deputy Mayor O’Leary’s salue for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, especially as next month is Black History Month, so she called on people to learn more about these issues.

She also wanted to recognize the role of the late former NDP leader, especially as Cllr Ravencorft was born and raised in Dartmouth and McDonough was her MP for a time.

“She was the first NDP leader I was aware of as a child.”

Cllr Ravencroft also wanted to recognize that today is Tu B’Shevat, or the “New Year of the Trees,” in the Hebrew calendar.

Cllr Korab added that someone has put in an application for a lounge at the Village Mall and people can comment on it until February 8 at 9:30 a.m.

Cllr Ian Froude gave a shout out to the City’s public work department for their work leading up to this winter as part of their effort to improve sidewalk snow clearing.

“They made a conscious effort to identify known barriers along sidewalk snow clearing routes, whether that was a resident’s fence or a pole; they came up with creative solutions to either have the pole removed or have the fence modified or in some cases went around the pole if the pole couldn’t be removed because of broader costs or broader reasons.”

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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.