What Odds at City Hall: 20 December 2021

The last Council meeting of the year wrapped up on Monday. 2021 is going out with a bang—though Covid is once again challenging celebrations.

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Before we dive in, hats off to the councillors for their seasonal sartorial choices. While Cllr Jamie Korab went all out with his festival red suit replete with candy print, Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft donned dark red tartan (as expected of our only goth councillor) and Cllr Jill Bruce had a top emblazoned with Santa faces—yes, you read that right. Multiple Santa faces.

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary attended virtually and Cllr Debbie Hanlon was absent.

First off, the Council approved a Discretionary Use application for a Home Occupation at 5 Boland Street.

“The proposed Home Occupation is for a Retail Use which involves the pick-up of retail items purchased online through buy and sell groups,” said Cllr Korab.

The proposed application site is in the Residential Zone. According to the application, the business will be open seven days a week, from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, and pickups will happen throughout the day. There will be two employees who live at the spot and there is also on-site parking.

Cllr Korab added the applicant said they’d have at most 20 clients come by a day, but he wondered how that would be enforced.

Chief Municipal Planner Ken O’Brien—who had his own elf hat with bells—said it would be up to residents to bring up complaints if they had concerns with too many visitors to the business.

Cllr Maggie Burton added she was familiar with the property and knows people in the area are concerned with speeding, and raised the idea that the homeowner could mention this issue to clients, so they’d keep speed in mind when driving through the neighborhood.

Then Council gave approval to construct a residential deck at 24B Empire Avenue, which is in the Floodplain Buffer.

Council then okayed another Discretionary Use application for a Home Occupation, this time at 83 Wabush Place, in Ward Three where Cllr Korab presides.

Cllr Korab said the business is baking traditional and specialty goods—so yum. The business itself is taking up 12.8 m² at the address and will use the existing kitchen. It will operate from 9:00 am – 8:00 pm and most orders will be delivered off site, on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Occasionally there will be pick-ups at the home, with a maximum of two per day. The applicant is the sole employee and there is no onsite parking, but there shouldn’t be an issue.

Driveway Blues

A decision on a driveway extension at 2 Barrows Road was once again deferred, due to its location in the wetland and buffer, at least until the 2021 Wetlands Study – Phase 2 is wrapped up.

Cllr Korab gave the background on this issue, saying an application was submitted in July 2018 for a driveway at 2 Barrows Road and that application was approved because at the time the driveway location didn’t impact the Wetland Study Area. However, a stop work order was issued as the limits of work went beyond the approved area. So the driveway was not to provide access to the back or rear of the property.

Map of the property at 2 Barrow’s Road, showing location of the wetland and 15 m wetland buffer. Source: 20 December 2021 City Agenda.

Then on July 5, 2021, he said a new application was submitted for the extension of a driveway at the rear of 2 Barrows Road. However, the location of this proposed driveway is also in an area that’s a protected wetland and associated buffer. The property is within the area that’s  subject of the 2021 Wetlands Study – Phase 2, and any development in the study area “would be premature until the study is complete,” said Korab.

Mr. O’Brien explained the study will get underway in the spring and could go on until fall, which means the report could come out in late 2022 or even early 2023. After that, they’ll have to decide how to implement the report and which rating of wetland to protect.

Further Adventures in Residential Rezoning

Council moved on to approve the removal of the Non-Profit Housing audit report from the Office of the City Internal Auditor’s follow-up list.

Cll Bruce asked Council to “approve the request from the Seniors Advisory Committee to obtain a letter of commitment from Mayor Danny Breen and to apply to be recognized as an Age-Friendly City through the World Health Organization.”

The motion carried.

The Council will also be tapping into the Windsor Lake Water Treatment Plant Equipment Reserve Fund in order to supply and install three Ultraviolet Light (UV) Reactors.

Council is also considering rezoning 275 Elizabeth Avenue from the Residential 1 Zone to the Apartment 1 Zone to allow the development of seven small three-storey apartment buildings. But first, Council is kicking the application back to City staff to get more information from the applicant.

Cllr Ian Froude said he’s heard concerns with the access point planned for Elizabeth Avenue and the proximity to an intersection, as well as a lack of green space and buffer between the proposed development and adjacent homes.

He said he’d make the motion for the application to go back to City staff to get back to the developer for further information prior to considering the amendment.

“I’m of the belief, and I hear from the community, we need more apartments, especially near the MUN campus and other campuses. And I’m open to this but I’m not confident moving forward with the details provided in committee last week,” said Cllr Froude.

He added he’s heard from the developer recently and he looks forward to seeing more information on the proposal.

Council has also been asked to consider rezoning a portion of 670 Kenmount Road from the Residential 1 Zone to the Residential Reduced Lot Zone for a 60-lot residential development.

Cllr Froude said—with Council’s approval—the next step would be for the application to be advertised and referred to a virtual public meeting chaired by an independent facilitator. As well, the application would be referred to the Environmental Sustainability Experts Panel for review and comment on a proposed wetland exemption from the wetland deferral.

Tackling Seagulls In Robin Hood Bay

Rentokil Pest Control Canada Limited has been tapped to do something about those seagulls at the Robin Hood Bay landfill—to the tune of $409,944 + HST. So because the landfill is so close to the St. John’s International Airport, which comes with the risks associated with aircrafts colliding birds, a management program is needed. This is also a continuation of a program that’s been in place since 2013. 

This contract is for a two year period (so 2022 and 2023), with potential for one year extension.

The other bid came from Orkin Canada but the agenda didn’t list its bid.

Council adopted the resolution for St. John’s Development Regulations Amendment 5, 2021, to rezone land from the Residential 2 Zone to the Apartment 2 Zone for a Personal Care Home on 5 and 7 Little Street. As well as a Land Use Report for the two properties.

Cllr Ian Froude explained the City has received an application from architecture firm Lat 49, on behalf of Nevida Properties Inc., for a Personal Care Home at the property. The properties are currently zoned Residential 2, in which a Personal Care Home is a Discretionary Use.

According to OpenCorporates, Nevida Properties Inc is directed by Roozbeh Kamyar.

A public meeting was held on November 24 that had one attendee, said Cllr Froude. He’s also met with some of the people who live in adjacent properties last week. As for concerns, he’s heard people worried about the shading of properties but he understands it’s not significant. Another concern is traffic but he said these types of properties don’t tend to bring in much traffic.

There are also concerns around flooding from developing the project but he said a storm water management system is required when it is constructed.

Selling City Land

The City also signed off on the sale of City land at the front of 352 Airport Heights Drive for $1.00 and the land to the right for $3.00 per square foot, plus HST and administrative fees. The area is about 2,487.54 square feet, so the price works out to $7,462.62.

Cllr Bruce explained the homeowner would like to buy the land because his patio encroaches on it.

19 King’s Bridge Road is also back on the agenda—and once again, Cllr Ron Ellsworth excused himself from voting on it. While not stated in the meeting, he’s the real estate agent for the property.

On Monday the Council decided to adopt-in-principle the resolutions for Envision St. John’s Municipal Plan Amendment Number 4, 2021 and St. John’s Development Regulations Amendment Number 6, 2021. 

As previously reported in a past Council meeting, the new owner of the property—which used to belong to the Anglican Church of Canada—sent an application to the City to rezone the property from the Institutional Zone to the Commercial Neighbourhood Zone.

Cllr Froude said there were no submissions received by the City Clerk’s Office and no attendees at the public meeting.

Mayor Danny Breen remarked 19 King’s Bridge Road is an important building and it was also formerly the U.S. Consulate in the late 1960s. The Anglican Church also had its office there for years.

Cllr Burton remarked that “This is perhaps another one of these buildings that in future could consider applying for a heritage designation, on the terms of intangible cultural heritage.” 

2021 Going Out With A Bang

In its bid to say goodbye and so long to 2021, the Council signed off on the City of St. John’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks and associated road closures.

Initially, Deputy Mayor O’Leary said she would bring this up on behalf of the absent Cllr Hanlon, but due to technical issues, Cllr Ravencroft stepped in.

Cllr Ravencroft said the fireworks are happening at Quidi Vidi Lake on December 31 at 8:00 pm, though January 1 is a backup date if weather gets in the way—which happened last year. Parking Enforcement Officers and hired security will also be around to implement the road closures. 

The following roads will be closed on New Year’s Eve:

  • The Boulevard, closed 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm from Legion Road to East White Hills Road
  • Lake Avenue, closed at 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm
  • Carnell Drive, closed at 2:00 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Clancey Drive, closed at 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm
  • Lakeview Avenue, closed at 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm

However, previously City-hosted events for the evening have been cancelled due to the pandemic, including the skating party at The Loop, Bannerman Park and the Countdown Celebration to the fireworks at Quidi Vidi Lake.

The Go Round

Mostly the councillors went one-by-one to wish people happy holidays and the hope for a better 2022 to come, so I won’t repeat all of it.

Cllr Ravencroft admitted to comitting “the cardinal sin” of missing the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers which took place December 17, something she’d normally bring up but she “plum forgot” to mention it last Monday.

“It’s an incredible important day and please keep sex workers in your thoughts this Christmas, as any marginalzied group may be struggling to celebrate,” she said.

She added “blessed yule and happy solstice,” which is taking place Tuesday, so the days will get a little bit longer.

On behalf of Deputy Mayor O’Leary, Cllr Korab reminded people about Bowring Park’s Self-Guided Festival of Music and Lights taking place until January 6. As well, he said The Loop opens on Tuesday.

He and Cllr Carl Ridgeley also reminded people to donate and use the local food banks if they’re in need.

Mayor Breen mentioned he’d taken part in events at Roncalli Elementary as well as Bishop Abraham, using Google Meet he was able to recite The Night Before Christmas. He also thanked school staff and parent groups for using technology at their disposal to help children continue to celebrate the season.

As the Council meeting came to end, I heard the sound of jingles—which was probably Mr. O’Brien’s elf hat.

And that’s the final St. John’s City Council meeting for 2021. See you again in a few weeks when we brace for whatever 2022 brings us.

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