City Council started with a few chuckles after some enthusiastic ringing that signaled the start of the meeting.

Most of the Councillors were present in Chambers today, with Cllr Maggie Burton being the sole person absent.

First off, Mayor Breen proclaimed Monday as World Refugee Day.

“World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe,” he read out.

“It falls each year on June 20 and recognizes the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution,” the Mayor continued. “World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.”

St. John’s has also partnered with the Association for New Canadians to launch a photo exhibit titled ‘Brighter Future…Together.’

Gut-foundered in the Gut

A Discretionary Use application submitted by Canadian Wilderness Holidays Limited (Quidi Vidi Brewery) at 35 Barrow’s Road had been approved by Council. Parking relief for nine spots was also granted.

The company is directed by David Fong and it was last before council on May 2, where he got approval for a restaurant inside the brewery’s lounge.

This latest application is for an outdoor eating area and lounge. The floor area will be approximately 88.1 m² and on the main level of the building and will extend onto the wharf. Its hours of operations will be seven days a week, 12 pm to 9 pm. There was also requested parking relief.

There were four submissions sent to the City speaking out against the addition, many upset over how the brewery has continued to expand and bring in more traffic.

“The proposed outdoor lounge area expansion will provide additional space for patrons, but the current capacity orders issued by St. John’s Regional Fire Department will not allow an increase until such time as a secondary exit to the building can be secured. This extension means more space but right now not an increase in the number of people allowed in,” said Cllr Jamie Korab.

Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft wanted to acknowledge they have received a number of critical submissions and “detailed in their criticisms,” adding she’s received some of these letters and has been in contact with area residents.

“I don’t want them to feel their concerns are not being heard,” or that Council doesn’t care about their quality of life. She explained her support for this application was because she saw significant work done to ensure there are safeguards in place and it’s beneficial to the village.

She added that if folks continue to have concerns and feel there are problems, they are welcome to report them.

35 Barrow’s Road. (Source: City Agenda, 20 June 2022.)

Drive True at the Drive-Thru

Council then approved the discretionary use application for a drive-thru at the 446 Topsail Road’s Orange Store/North Atlantic.

The application was submitted by NARL Marketing Inc. (North Atlantic).

The drive-thru will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and onsite parking is provided.

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary did have a question about traffic and what was being done to make sure it doesn’t get “bunged up.”

A City Staff member said they did look at the plan so traffic will be alright and if it’s packed up it will still be in the lot and not go into the street.

Cllr Korab also asked about a nearby school, and what a busy area it is, especially with the former School for the Deaf set to reopen. He then asked staff if they can look at it again for ways to enhance safety.

446 Topsail Road. (Source: City Agenda, 20 June 2022.)

Aberdeen White Rose Holding Limited c/o Thompson Centres has gotten the okay for a drive-thru at a new A&W restaurant at 50 White Rose Drive.

It will be open 24/hours a day and seven days a week, and onsite parking is provided.

50 White Rose Drive. (Source: City Agenda, 20 June 2022.)

Galway Green

Council awarded Can-Am Platforms & Construction Ltd., a contract valued at $1,879,418.55 (HST included) for Galway Village Green Phase 1 – Playground Development.

The contract duration is six months, said Cllr Ian Froude, though the agenda estimated for five.

The other bidders were Farrell’s Excavating Ltd. ($1,970,676.80 HST included), Modern Paving Limited ($2,029,750 HST included), Redwood Construction Limited ($2,194,195.40 HST included) and Pyramid Construction Limited ($2,294,250 HST included).

Lights, Camera, Stop Traffic!

On June 27 and June 28, Clancey Drive and Lakeview Avenue – which is just off of Quidi Vidi Lake – will be closed so Hudson & Rex can film season five.

A traffic control company will be there for the road closure and local traffic, boat house patrons, and emergency vehicles will still be able to get through, said Cllr Debbie Hanlon.

Road closures near Quidi Vidi Lake for Hudson & Rex production. (Source: City Agenda, 20 June 2022.)

Council has agreed to consider a text amendment to add an accessory building as a permitted use in the Commercial Downtown Zone, Commercial Downtown Mixed Zone, Commercial Downtown Mixed 2 Zone, Industrial Special Zone, and as a Discretionary Use in the Open Space Zone; and advertise the amendment for public comment.

A Community Garden for Bonaventure Avenue

As well, Council will advertise the discretionary use of two accessory buildings at 65 Bonaventure Avenue.

Someone wants to develop two accessory buildings at 65 Bonaventure Avenue—which is the green space between Holy Heart and Brother Rice—and it’s going to be used by the community garden, said Cllr Froude.

“The property is zoned Open Space and, subject to Council considering the text amendment, the proposed accessory buildings would need to be advertised as a discretionary use,” said Cllr Froude.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary spoke up in support of the community garden, which has been a great community asset.

Cllr Korab added he’d been on a tour of the garden and had seen that the garden’s equipment was lying about, sometimes in containers, so it really needed the storage space.

Proposed community garden site on Bonaventure Avenue. (Source: City Agenda, 20 June 2022.)

Cllr Ravencroft is heading to Saint John, New Brunswick for the International Symposium on Women and Addiction that’s taking place from September 22 to 24.

The agenda had a few more details about the event, so I’ll share them here. Chairman/President of the International Symposium Committee Russell King sent an invitation to our City’s mayor with the offer of a seat for someone from St. John’s to attend in-person. Anyone else who wants to attend can attend virtually. Cllr Ravencroft had shown interest in going in-person, in light of her ward and past experience in mental health and addiction.

Council has granted the closure of the cul-de-sac portion of Anthony Avenue for a block party on June 24.

The residents are having a party from 11 am to 11 pm to celebrate the end of the school year for children in the neighbourhood. The road will be closed only on the upper cul-de-sac portion of the street and there will be volunteers at all barricades, though local access will still be permitted, said Cllr Hanlon.

Anthony Avenue street closure. (Source: City Agenda, 20 June 2022.)

The Go Round

Cllr Froude said in the next couple of weeks, bike racks are going to be installed at select locations on Duckworth Street and Water Street. He said the sites were chosen for a number of reasons, including the spots are well-lit and they won’t cause access issues.

Cllr Ravencroft congratulated the Nickel Independent Film Festival’s organizers for last week’s event, adding she was able to use the online viewing option for the horror night.

Cllr Jill Bruce also cautioned people that this is the final week of school and soon kids will be running around, so be careful.

As well, she touted a recent event between Roncalli Elementary and Lane’s Retirement Living, where a group of Grade Six students played seated volleyball with seniors and the kindergarten class did a butterfly release in Lane’s gardens. She said there was always a vision for collaboration between the neighbours but the pandemic had pushed it off.

Cllr Hanlon said Susan Walsh was officially appointed as Seniors’ Advocate last week, and that she’s looking forward to meeting her. She also thanked the past advocate, Suzanne Brake.

The Seniors Party in the Park is set for July 20 (and if it rains the event will be bumped to the 21st). It will be from 1-4 pm on the lawn by the Bowring Park Bungalow and a $5 pick-up at certain locations can be arranged, she said.

The outdoor pools and splash pads are also opening on July 2, she said.

And finally, she spoke about National Indigenous Peoples Day, which takes place June 21, and First Light is celebrating all week with a number of events.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary built on what Cllr Hanlon said on National Indigenous Peoples Day, encouraging them to go to First Light’s website. She added this is a great opportunity to continue to learn about indigenous culture and their contributions.

Equal Voice NL, a group that encourages women and gender diversity in politics, is looking for volunteers for its Future of the Vote campaign (it was recently renamed from Daughters of the Vote). They’re looking for 40 applicants and applications close on July 4, she said.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary also spoke about the St. John’s Food Action Plan, which is happening at the O’Brien Farm Foundation. She mentioned Cllr Burton has had a major role in developing this program. She said it will launch a roadmap for the city for 2025, and outlines action and opportunities around good food policies.

Mayor Breen ended the meeting, thanking the volunteers and staff who make community programs like the Boys and Girls Club possible. He was recently at an awards ceremony held at Buckmasters Circle and saw the relationships these kids make with each other, the staff and other volunteers. He also noted the City grants help too.

On a final note, he said delegates from Braga, Portugal visited the City today, which is part of

the European Union’s International Urban and Regional Cooperation program in North America. 

He said a delegation from our City will head out later this year. St. John’s also has a special relationship with Portugal—while the Mayor didn’t say it outright, he was probably alluding to the fishery and the White Fleet, a name given to the Portuguese fishers who came to Newfoundland and Labrador and were known for their white sails.

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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.