What Odds at City Hall: 21 March 2022

Pasture Land Road lives up to its name after all, WerkLiv is back before Council, and a sobering reflection on racism in St. John’s.

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Quick tally at the top: Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary and Cllr Debbie Hanlon tuned in virtually to Monday’s City council meeting—with Cllr Maggie Burton running a few minutes late but also joining virtually. Only Cllr Ron Ellsworth was absent.

Turns Out Pasture Land Road Actually Was Pasture Land This Whole Time

As Cllr Carl Ridgeley said he would in last week’s unusual Tuesday council meeting, he made a motion to rescind a resolution and for Council to approve the Crown Land License to occupy 1028 hectares of land on Pasture Land Road. The license is also limited to a five year term, with a cap on the number of animals.

Back on February 7’s council meeting, Council voted to reject the Crown application, with Cllr Jamie Korab explaining it wasn’t an appropriate use within a protected watershed. 

At the time, Cllr Ridgeley had asked to defer the decision for another week, which Cllr Ellsworth shot down, explaining the importance of protecting watersheds. Cllr Ridgeley also wanted to clarify around what portion of the Crown land was in the watershed? Chief Municipal Planner Ken O’Brien said that the entire 1028 hectares of land were in the Thomas Pond Watershed.

Since then new information about the land has come to light.

It wasn’t mentioned during the council meeting but according to the agenda, apparently after the February 7 meeting, the province provided some additional information. As it turns out, the land has been used as pasture land since the 1960s—so I guess the name Pasture Land Road was more apt than I thought.

A local committee took over management of the area in 1979, and then in 1995 a License to Occupy was awarded to the Foxtrap Agricultural Society.

Fast forward to 2018 and the society said they no longer wanted to manage the pasture land and the license was canceled in the fall of 2021. Now a new license has been advertised and the winner was the Foxtrap Pastureland Association Inc., who are listed on the current Crown Land referral.

On top of all that history, the proposed License area is recognized by the province’s Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture St. John’s Agriculture Development Area.

So if the license to occupy is approved by the province, they would still need to submit a Development Application to the City for the continuation of a Non-Conforming Use. If that’s approved, the next move is to outline the appropriate conditions, like the number of animals allowed.

Thomas Pond Watershed. (Source: City Agenda, 21 March 2022.)

Council then approved a 4.91 metre building line at 8 Forde Drive to accommodate a covered porch for a new single detached dwelling.

Back on February 28, Council signed off on a rear yard variance of 6.3 percent and now the builders want a porch.

Moving along, they okay-ed a dwelling extension at Healey’s Pond Crescent in the Broad Cove River Watershed, Town of Portugal Cove – St. Phillip’s.

Cllr Jamie Korab said “An application has been referred from The Town of Portugal Cove – St. Phillip’s requesting approval for the extension of an existing dwelling at 42 Healey’s Pond Crescent. This property is located in the Broad Cove River Watershed. The existing dwelling is 92.90 m² , while the proposed expansion is for a 44.59 m² slab on grade double garage.”

“Development of lands within the Watershed and situated within the legal municipal boundary of the Town of Portugal Cove—St. Phillip’s is subject to Section 104(4) of the City of St. John’s Act, and therefore must be referred to the City for review and approval. Under this section, Council may permit an extension to an existing dwelling where the extension is necessary to provide adequate living quarters, provided the extension shall not exceed ½ the cubic content of the existing dwelling.”

42 Healey’s Pond Crescent and its place within the Broad Cove Watershed. (Source: City Agenda, 21 March 2022.)

Making St. John’s Resilient

Then the Resilient St. John’s Community Climate Plan was before Council.

They voted to adopt the plan, as well as a few more items: adopting community greenhouse gas emission reduction targets from the estimated 2016 baseline of 25 percent by 2025, 50 percent by 2030 with a stretch target of 60 percent, and net-zero by 2050 at the latest.

Council also directed the City Manager to return to Council with a resource plan, as well as directed staff to integrate the outlined actions in the plan into the multi-year capital plan and future annual budgets for consideration. They are also directing the Environmental and Sustainability Experts Panel to develop terms of reference for a task force that will support the implementation of the Resilient St. John’s Climate Plan.

Cllr Ian Froude said in May they adopted a corporate climate plan, which related to the operation of the City—so things like plows and buildings the City owns. This plan is about the City, and includes how people move around, energy used by homes and businesses, and the like.

Froude said as a municipality, they play a “crucial role in how people live their day-to-day lives, and subsequently how we respond to climate change as a community.”

He added this plan is in line with the province’s plan to reduce greenhouse gasses.

“There is a cost associated with this, but the return is greater than that,” Froude explained. “So specifically the savings add up quickly over the 28 years to an overall return of nearly $1.8 billion, which is a 33 percent return on $5.5 billion investment needed to realize the transition. The majority of the financial benefit is due to the $7 billion in avoided energy and carbon costs as well as the maintenance associated with the energy efficiency and fuel switching.”

Deputy Mayor O’Leary thanked staff who worked on this, as well as Cllrs Burton and Froude who led it. She called it a complex and proactive plan and she was proud to support it.

30- and 50-year climate projections for St. John’s. (Source: City Agenda, 21 March 2022.)

Calming Down Cars

Council then voted to share the “What We Heard” traffic calming  policy update document on the City’s Engage page, as well as give consideration to the “What We Heard” in anticipation of the policy update’s draft.

Cllr Froude did ask what the next step was, with Deputy City Manager of Planning, Engineering & Regulatory Services Jason Sinyard explaining the new traffic engineer starts this week, who will need to get up to speed. But a draft of the policy should be before Council in three months’ time.

Cllr Burton tuned in just in time to give a quick comment, thanking Cllr Hickman for bringing this to Council and said the feedback from residents will be helpful in shaping the policy moving forward.

Marion Isaacs will be joining the Shea Heights Community Centre’s board of directors after Council approved her as a new At Large member.

The board got two new members approved on February 21’s council meeting when Council approved the appointment of Joey Warford and Brittany Benson as At Large members.

Next up, Council approved the appointment to the City’s Youth Engagement Working Group.

The individual representatives are Isabel Ojeda, Marium Nawal Oishee, and Ony Anukem, announced Cllr Burton.

The organizational representatives are Jen Crowe of Choices for Youth (alternate Tim Smuck), and Lindsey Hynes of Go Getters NL (alternate Kristen Whittle).

Clean Energy, Clean Streets

The City is procuring and installing 26 electric vehicle charging stations for corporate and public sites, which Cllr Sandy Hickman called “wonderful.”

The contract is going to Services FLO Inc. for $118,902 (HST not included) and it was the sole source.

The City then awarded two contracts for janitorial work for various city locations; section one went to Rockwater Professional Products for $97,137.03 (HST included) and section two went to Best Dispensers Ltd. for $23,211.90 (HST included).

Ridge G&P Services Ltd. also secured a contract for bulk garbage and recyclable metal collection to the tune of $157,377.27 (HST included). The contract is for two years.

The other bid came from T2 Ventures Inc. ($161,718.75).

Cllr Jill Bruce did ask of this was for spring or fall.

Deputy City Manager of Public Works Lynnann Winsor said it was for spring bulk garbage collection.

Cllr Hickman also gave a notice of motion that at the next regular meeting he will move to enact an amendment to the St. John’s Street Cleaning By-Laws to adjust its street cleaning hours.

Council then agreed to adopt St. John’s Development Regulations Amendment 8, 2022, that will modify and clarify wording in the Envision St. John’s Development Regulations.

Council approved the appointment of Ana Koren as the citizen representative on the Audit & Accountability Standing Committee. 

WerkLiv Is Back On the Books

Montreal-based real estate developer WerkLiv is looking to develop three apartment buildings with 205 units and parking at 6 Lambe’s Lane. During February 14’s council meeting, a public meeting was set for March 23 at 7 pm. 

However, Council had to appoint a new commissioner after the person selected had to bow out due to a commitment, explained Cllr Froude. Cliff Johnston, MCIP, a member of the City’s commissioner list, has been tapped to be the new commissioner and public meeting is still this Wednesday.

The Go Round

Deputy Mayor O’Leary had two items to mention. First, that Monday is International Down Syndrome Day.

It’s a day to encourage raising awareness in our communities and to promote the fact that all people are valued and participating citizens. She also gave a shout out to the Newfoundland and Labrador Down Syndrome Society for their work.

She also wanted to give a boost to the ongoing promotion of the Applause Awards, especially the Tourism Award. The City has modified the presentation of the Tourism Awards to only award the Pinnacle Legend Award this year, which recognizes an individual or organization who has made significant contribution to the tourism industry over the years.

Nominations are open until March 31 for all the Applause Award categories.

Cllr Hanlon also reminded people the Senior of the Year category is also accepting nominations.

Cllr Burton also wanted to remind people of two Applause Award sections: Building Healthy Communities Volunteer Awards and the Heritage Award.

Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft said International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination is also Monday. She directed people to the City website that has a summary of a number of City initiatives aimed at improving racial equity.

She added this is unfortunately relevant in light of the “horrific egging” of the East End mosque that happened recently—something she called “wildly unacceptable.”

“To think we live in an environment or a time when there are individuals among us that still,” she paused, “I’m kind of at a loss for words, really. This is the sort of mockery we’d like to think we’ve put behind us and we’re constantly reminded that there’s so much work left to be done.”

Finally, Cllr Korab reminded people of the virtual public hearing happening tomorrow on the second phase of the Rennie’s River Flood Mitigation Project.

The feedback from this meeting will be incorporated into the environmental preview report.

A What We Heard document will also be provided, he said.

If you want to attend, you’ll need to register in advance at the Engage St. John’s website. If you can’t do that, he said you can give your comments by calling 754-2489 or emailing [email protected]

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter.

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