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First off, Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary led the usual Monday City Council meeting as Mayor Danny Breen was absent.

As well, it’s once again taking place virtually because of the ongoing pandemic- and I have to say, I’m not loving the iffy-audio quality.

At the top of the agenda, Council signed off on a 7.6% variance at 46 Shoal Bay Road to accommodate a new lot.

According to the agenda an application was submitted to subdivide and reconfigure this piece of land to create a new lot at 46 Shoal Bay Road. It’s zoned Rural Residential Infill and the minimum Lot Area requirement is 2023 m² and the proposed new lot would have an area of 1869.7 m², which is why they need the 7.6% variance. Under the Envision St. John’s Development Regulations, Council is allowed to consider granting a variance from the applicable Lot Requirements to a maximum of 10%.

Lots 46 and 54 on Shoal Bay Road. (Source: City Agenda, 24 January 2022)

The corner of Shoal Bay Road and Mill Road is also getting an eight metre sight triangle, making it safer for pedestrians and drivers.

Cllr Jamie Korab said an application was submitted to subdivide and reconfigure land to create a new Lot at 54 Shoal Bay Road—which is on the corner of Shoal Bay Road (which is a public street) and Mill Road (which is a private road).

He was briefly interrupted by the banging of his cat, who had wandered into his kitchen to eat. Probably the only positive thing that can happen from virtual meetings is chance encounters with other people’s pets. (Although I did not see the cat, I was just happy it was there.)

Next up, another variance request!

A 1.26% variance on lot frontage for a new lot at 310 Brookfield Road was signed off on. So someone wants to subdivide this land to create a new lot as well as develop a Single Detached Dwelling.

Cllr Korab explained the area is zoned Rural Residential Infill and the minimum lot frontage required is 30 metres—the proposed lot frontage is only 29.62 metres, so it needs a 1.26% variance. Council can consider granting a variance from the applicable Lot Requirements to a maximum of 10%.

Parking Lot Grows

Best Western Plus at 34 Jetstream Avenue was also looking to add some parking spaces to its existing lot.

According to the Envision Development Regulations—section 8.3 if you’re curious—Cllr Korab said the maximum number of parking spaces for a hotel is 212. Best Western Plus currently has 169 on site and wants to add 63 for a grand total of 232—20 more spaces than the allotted 212.

Cllr Korab said the hotel had a number of reasons for this, one is a lack of parking on weekends.

The agenda breaks the hotel’s case down into a bit more detail. First, in the down season the hotel has 86 employees and that goes up to 129 in season. The hotel encourages its employees to share rides, and staff need at least 19 parking spots per shift. So the additional 20 parking spots will be for staff. Finally, park and fly service isn’t provided due to a lease agreement with the Airport Authority.

With their case made, council voted to approve the additional parking spaces.

Cllr Ian Froude said these parking lot maximums were put in the regulation “as a way to encourage other uses and better walkability. There was an understanding that there would be other cases where, like this one, there would be modest requests for changes. And I see no issue with this one. I think it’s working as it should.”

Tenders Issued

Quebec-based firm Harris Govern then secured a $165,056.19 (HST excluded) contract for one year for the annual software renewal of Enterprise Software Solution MS Govern.

It did not go to tender because Harris Govern is the Sole Source Provider for support, maintenance, and licensing of the MS Govern products—so basically the City had to go with it.

Rehrig Pacific Company was awarded a $82,600 (plus HST) contract to maintain the inventory of 240 L garbage carts for automated collection; the carts will be used for replacement of damaged or lost bins, as well as new builds.

Cllr Sandy Hickman said the price listed is for two years but the contract is for five years.

The only other bidder was Saunders Equipment ($106,176).

Matching Zones with Property Lines

The next three items are all about reinterpreting zone lines and they’re also all information notes so Council doesn’t vote on them because it’s a City staff decision, explained Cllr Froude.

“But it’s basically, and this applies to the next three, is when the zoning line and a lot line might not align fully.”

The point is to make sure a different zone isn’t cutting through a property, he added.

45 Janeway Place is mostly zoned Institutional, except for the south-west corner which is zoned Residential R 2, he said. It was once a part of the Janeway Hostel property, which was demolished along with the Janeway Children’s Hospital that the hostel served. The property is now vacant and unused.

45 Janeway Place. (Source: City Agenda, 24 January 2022)

467 Main Road will be in the Residential 2 Cluster Zone.

Back in 2015 the property was rezoned into what’s now called Residential 2 Cluster Zone. Sometime after or during the rezoning process, the developer bought a small bit of land at the property’s south end which wasn’t picked up in the rezoning, so it was listed as still part of the Residential 1 Zone.

Next up, Cllr Froude walked Council through the zoning map change on the Southlands phase 9-2B.

“What staff has done is interpret the zone lines to accommodate a proposed change to an access point from a future street to a public open space in Southlands phase 9-2B,” said Cllr Froude.

“The planning issue at hand is an access point from a future public street in the Southlands development to public open space in Phase 9-2B. Fairview Investments, who are developing this phase, have asked to move the access point a few metres west so that it lines up with a future street intersection. City staff, including Parks staff, agree with the changed location”

The Go Round

Deputy Mayor O’Leary started off, congratulating the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board (MMSB) on its first litter summit. She also mentioned one of the presentations there was from Environment and Climate Change Canada, which is welcoming comments on the proposed single-use plastics prohibition regulations. She added the federal government has made a commitment to reduce plastic use by enacting a ban on some single-use plastic products.

As well, she said January 29 is the National Day of Remembrance of the Québec City Mosque Attack and Action against Islamophobia. It will be five years since the tragic event.

Cllr Carl Ridgeley said he was glad to see City staff meet with Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador and the Department of Tourism, adding that based on 2019 numbers, the City is losing approximately half a million dollars a year from the tourism market.

He also asked if the City could look at alternating collection days for recycling and garbage so residents can use the green bins for recycling as well.

This Saturday the Southland’s ice rink should also be open, he announced.

Cllr Korab also thanked Cllr Ridgeley for his work in getting the rink running.

Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft said that while she isn’t much of a fan of winter, she also tipped her hat to Cllr Ridgeley for the rink and how it will help people enjoy the winter.

She said feedback on the recent sidewalk snow clearing has come in and if anyone had concerns in Ward 2 to reach out to her.

As well, Cllr Ravencroft said this Thursday marks the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Beth El Synagogue and Havura are holding a joint zoom event. There will also be a moment of silence at 3 p.m. to recognize the Red Army’s liberation of Auschwitz. YouTube will be hosting free films on this day through the Atlantic Jewish Council.

Building on the Deputy Mayor’s comments, Cllr Jill Bruce said that she found the MMSB litter summit to be “very informative” and she looks forward to spring when there will be litter cleanups.

She also wished good luck to students, parents, teachers and staff who are heading back to in-class learning tomorrow.

Cllr Hickman was also in attendance at MMSB’s litter summit and said it was fantastic.

Cllr Maggie Burton reminded people that people can comment on the traffic calming policy until February 7. She encouraged people to have their say and head on over to EngageStJohns.ca.

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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.