What Odds at City Hall: 21 November 2022

The Aquatic Safety Audit Report is approved—with some tweaking for a Naloxone project—and Council plans for the holidays.
St. John's City Hall on New Gower Street.
St. John’s City Hall. Photo by Elizabeth Whitten.

Absent from the meeting are Cllrs Carl Ridgeley, Debbie Hanlon and Sandy Hickman.

There was only one proclamation read out by Mayor Danny Breen today, so take note: tomorrow is National Housing Day (and week).

Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft, housing lead, said it is difficult to emphasize exactly how important the work being done is and how significant it is to declare housing as a human right. She pointed out that those on Council are aware of the crisis in housing at the moment.

“I’m truly thankful for the work that we in the housing division—as well as all of our community partners and everyone in the affordable housing group—have been doing to really improve conditions,” she said.

“I’m truly proud to be a part of this work as housing lead and I’m really looking forward to the forum tomorrow as well.”

Council voted to approve the Commercial Mixed Use Zone Standards for a proposed

building extension at 30 Cookstown Road with a 20cm building line, 2.87 metres rear yard setback and 40cm side yard setback.

Back at the October 31 city council meeting they approved a parking garage at this location to allow a parking space for one vehicle on the main level of the dwelling extension.

30 Cookstown Road. (Source: City Agenda, 21 November 2022.)

Naloxone Kits Could Be Coming to City Locations

The Aquatic Safety Audit Report was unanimously approved by Council, along with the associated action plans put forth by management. Plus, they added an important amendment regarding Naloxone kits.

“The Office of the City Internal Auditor recently completed a compliance audit regarding aquatics safety. Public pools in Newfoundland and Labrador are regulated by the Department of Digital Government and Service NL through the Public Pool Regulations under the Public Health Act. The Regulations outline various provisions that pool operators must comply with to operate a pool in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Cllr Jill Bruce.

“Facilities, a Unit of the Recreation Division under the Department of Community Services, is responsible for the operation of City owned recreation facilities including all outdoor and indoor pools,” she continued. “As such, staff from Facilities were primarily involved with the audit. However, select staff from the Department of Public Work’s City Buildings Division were also involved with the audit as City Buildings Division is responsible for the maintenance of the pools.”

“So the audit indicated that the City’s pools are operating in compliance with the majority of the Regulations,” Cllr Bruce concluded. “Although instances of potential non-compliance were identified during the audit, the majority of such instances were small in nature. Details on the findings and related recommendations can be found in the attached audit report, for your review. And management have responded to all recommendations and have provided action plans and implementation dates for the recommendations.”

You can reach it starting on page 20 of the agenda.

Cllr Ravencorft raised one issue she had with the report, regarding Naloxone—something she’s advocated in a past council meeting as a means of saving lives.

She said there was a discussion over whether Naloxone should be available at City pools and the recommendation was there should be a study to determine if a plan should be developed and implemented, which would consider potential benefits and risks associated with a program. But, she said, management has rejected this, stating it’s not warranted at this time at public pools.

So Cllr Ravencroft asked City management: why not?

A staff member said this is coming from the point of view of the substantial effort it would take for staff training and a liability perspective. But if it’s something that Council would like staff to look into, they can begin with it.

Cllr Ravencroft responded that it is something she’d like to see move forward, and that Naloxone isn’t something new here and has been available in the community for several years. She added she felt so strongly about this, she couldn’t vote to approve the report because she didn’t agree with the decision to exclude Naloxone.

Mayor Breen then suggested an amendment that wouldn’t change the report but asks that staff start preparations around a Naloxone program.

Cllr Ron Ellsworth then added a friendly amendment to that, as he wasn’t comfortable with the way the amendment was worded. He’d like to direct staff to explore the opportunity and then bring back to Council recommendations.

Cllr Ravencroft said she had no problem with this change, as she thought this was what they were talking about.

Cllr Maggie Burton then added Naloxone kits aren’t provided to City workers for use in the workplace right now and it would be a mistake to confine this issue to just pools and it would be a good opportunity to have a look at carrying Naloxone City-wide.

Council voted on the amendment and then voted on the report. Both passed unanimously.

Tenders

Greenwood Services Inc.—for $39,665.80 a year (HST included)—secured the bid to do grass and grounds maintenance at various sites. This includes the non-profit housing properties.

The value is for one year but the contract is for a three year period, with the possibility of two one-year extensions.

The other bidders were Mercer’s Outdoor Design Limited ($59,225), Alyssa’s Property Services Pro Inc. ($62,560), T & H Cleaning and Maintenance Services Inc. ($76,590), Tri Star Excavating Inc ($82,225), Murphy’s Services Inc. ($132,365), 62076 Newfoundland and Labrador Ltd. ($331,660) and AIRO Landscapes Inc. ($429,325.13).

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary also pointed out the wide range of costs, so she was wondering if staff could comment on that.

A staff member said this isn’t uncommon to get a range of people bidding, both high and low prices, and she feels it’s normal. She added that maybe if a contractor really want a contract, they dig deep with the pencil and get the best price. And there are probably cases where a contractor is already busy with work, but still want to put in a bid and if it’s higher bid and get the work, then they get that money.

For $424,800 (plus HST), sole bidder Big Truck Rental will supply and deliver two new waste collection trucks. The contract is for 18 months.

And it’s that time of the year again~ With the holiday cheer already in the air, Council voted to suspend the regular and committee of the whole meetings for the period beginning December 22, resuming in the new year on January 9, 2023.

I haven’t been keeping track but wow, there have been a lot of road closures for films in the last few weeks—and here’s another one.

SurrealEstate was once again granted a by-law noise exemption, this time for filming until 3:00 am on November 26-27 in the area of Ordnance Street.

On top of that, on November 27, 12:00 am – 3:00 am, Ordnance Street will be closed, though accessible by local traffic and emergency vehicles. 

Ordnance Street. (Source: City Agenda, 21 November 2022.)

The Go Round

Cllr Ian Froude gave an update on a project for a structure proposed at the Long Pond and Prince Philip Drive to help reduce flooding downstream. In July it received release from the provincial Environmental Assessment and it’s currently in the hands of the Pippy Park Commission, who have a full say or veto on the project and will be meeting this week to discuss this issue.

He said he wanted to encourage the commission to support this project and he continually hears from his constituents about their flooding concerns.

He also added a bit of sports news, as the World Cup has kicked off, and that the last time Canada was playing in it, he’d been an infant. So on Wednesday afternoon he said he won’t be available because he’ll be at a pub watching the game featuring the Canadian team.

Cllr Korab said basically the same thing, he’ll be watching the same game.

Cllr Ravencroft added she is a fan of the Netherlands and hopes they do better than 2018.

First up though, she said End Homelessness St. John’s is going to be conducting their point in time count to see how many people are experiencing homelessness, in various ways: like short term housing, homelessess, couchsurfing and others. She said it’s been about four years since the last one took place so she’s hoping for some good results

She also wanted to recognize that yesterday was the Internatioanl Transgender Day of Remembrance, and wanted to thank Quadrangle NL and Trans Support NL for the event they held yesterday. She also drew attention to the horrific attack at Colorado Springs, where five members of the queer community were killed and more were injured.

She said this past Friday she spoke with a group of students affiliated with the social justice club at Holy Trinity High in Torbay, and heard from the kids about the challenges they experience. It draws attention to the availability of queer resources and infrastructure in communities outside of St. John’s.

“It’s a sobering realization, unfortunately,” Cllr Ravencroft said. “It’s cliche to say we have a lot of work to do, but we do. There’s much respect and much acknowledgment of the legitimacy and existence of the queer community in this place, in this City and everywhere surrounding it. And all this province and everywhere in the world. There is much left to be done.”

She then offered her condolences to those who have lost trans, nonbinary and two-spirit loved ones, and thanked those who attended yesterday’s event.

She once again spoke about the attack in Colorado Springs and ended her comments on a wish that the state and federal government will take direct action to protect the queer community.

Cllr Burton also added her comments to Cllr Froude’s regarding the Pippy Park Commission’s decision on flood mitigation, as this is a valuable project.

She also announced, as she’s expecting her fourth child, she is reducing her schedule between now and March. She encouraged people to reach out to her colleagues on issues or call 311.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary wished all the best to Cllr Burton and then spoke about the upcoming all party committee on basic income that’s happening next week.

She also congratulated participants in the 5th Kiwanis high school short story contest. There were 91 submissions from St. John’s and Mount Pearl, nine finalists and three winners.

As well, Spirit Song Festival kicked off and people interested in checking out the events can head to the First Light website, she said.

O’Leary also mentioned she’s a Pippy Park Commission representative from the City. As a board member for Pippy Park she said her role there is to act in concern to Pippy Park Commission and not the City, adding “it’s a tangly thing when we have representatives from the City of course put forward to various committees.” But she looks forward to the discussion that will happen at the meeting. When there is a decision, it will come forward to staff and Council.

Finally, Mayor Breen spoke of the importance of flood mitigation at Rennie’s River area. He said it’s a significant issue and he can remember meetings with residents on the matter going back a decade. He said the City has offered to take over responsibility of the trails from the Pippy Park Commission, in case there is a washout, but he said that’s unlikely. But this offer also speaks to how important dealing with this issue is. So he asked the commission to give this consideration.

And Santa Claus is coming to town this Sunday through the annual parade. Mayor Breen thanks Downtown St. John’s and City staff for the work they put in to arrange it. Metrobus will also offer a free shuttle to the downtown and he hoped the weather cooperates.

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter.

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