We’re back in the Chambers as yesterday—when the city council usually meets—was a holiday. (I hope you were making good use of the weather!)

First off, Cllr Sandy Hickman was sitting in the Mayor’s chair but he quickly explained that Mayor Danny Breen was called into a meeting with the federal Minister of Public Safety and the RNC to discuss the issue of public safety.

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary was off sick as well, and Cllr Jill Bruce was on vacation.

All other Councillors were present in chambers

Council approved the construction of the 8.9 m² accessory building in the floodplain buffer at 42 Beauford Place that’s replacing a pre-fab shed, said Cllr Jamie Korab. But it has to conform to Section 6.2 “Accessory Building” requirements of the Envision St. John’s Development Regulations.

42 Beauford Place. (Source: City Agenda, 24 May 2022.)

Townhouses Closer to Pleasantville

Council then signed off on a discretionary use application from Charter Development Ltd. for townhouse lots at 46 Churchill Avenue—though Council nixed the proposed number of 34 townhouses initially made in the motion.

This site is in the Apartment 2 Zone, where townhouses are a discretionary use. So each proposed lot will need to conform to the A2 Zone requirements and provide required parking. As well, their layout and design will be subject to City specifications.

“The current application is for consideration of the Townhouse Use only. Should the Use be approved, the developer will be required to submit detailed subdivision design plans, which must meet the City’s development requirements,” said Cllr Korab.

“The developer will need to delineate the 100-year Floodplain and 15 metre buffer for the river,” he continued. “Development will not be permitted within 1.2 metres of the edge of the buffer to ensure further protection. The trail will need to be identified on the submitted plans. Currently the trail runs along the edge of the river and so would mostly fall within the floodplain or buffer area. Any portion of the trail outside these areas would need to be maintained. The property is not a green space and has been designated and zoned for residential development for many years now.”

The City received five letters against this project, voicing concerns over the loss of greenspace, impacts on the river, and potential encroachment on the Virginia River walking trail.

In discussions, Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft said she is a supporter of increasing housing density and that looking at this proposed complex, she saw a lot of things she liked. But she also wanted to acknowledge the number of letters speaking out against the project, though she’s satisfied how City staff have answered a lot of those concerns that ensuring trails and pedestrian areas will be protected.

She did want to clarify, “this is purely an application for the use type. Any designs, anything more concrete will be finalized in the time to come. And should there be concerns about that, that can be expressed at that time. So I hope that this goes over well and I’m looking forward to seeing the designs of this project.”

Cllr Ian Froude also had some questions about the layout, while an image hadn’t been included in the agenda, one is in the public notice on the City’s website. He noted the building lots looked tight to the river in the drawing and wanted to know if the floodplain was considered in the drawings or is it a next step?

Deputy City Manager of Planning, Engineering & Regulatory Services Jason Sinyard said the picture in the ad is really a schematic at this point and the floodplain hasn’t been delineated and it would need to be revised. He suggested they remove the reference to 34 townhouses, which is the number the developer has applied for with its current layout. But once the floodplain and buffer is delineated, the number of townhouses could change.

“I wouldn’t want to have to come back to Council with a different number. So today’s decision is for the use only so that they can put townhouses there.”

Once that is approved, the detailed planning and technical plans come in, he said.

On Mr. Sinyard’s advice, Cllr Korab amended the motion to drop the number of townhouses and all councillors present voted in favour.

46 Churchill Avenue. (Source: City Agenda, 24 May 2022.)

Tender Talks

Most of the council meeting was taken up by approving tenders and there were a lot of them.

A contract for janitorial services was divided up for a number of companies. The bid for Group 1, 2 and 4 went to Philrobben Janitorial Limited for $448,308.00 per year (HST not included), and Group 3 went to Iggy’s Cleaning Services for $80,000.00 per year (HST not included)..

These prices are the value for one year of work, and the contract is for two years with the potential for an additional year.

Drive Line Machine Shop (Lee & Sons Ltd.) and Emergency Repair Ltd. both secured a bid to provide the maintenance and repairs to the City’s Light-Duty fleet, for $199,870 and $288,420, respectively. 

The other bids came from Freshwater Auto Centre Ltd. ($288,420), Harvey & Company Ltd. ($299,805) and City Tire & Auto Centre Ltd. ($505,747).

Up next was another vehicle-related contract, this time for the repair and maintenance of the City’s Heavy-Duty City Fleet. Again, the Council split the work between three bidders; Harvey & Company Ltd. ($45,272.63), Reefer Repair Services Ltd. ($50,485) and City Tire & Auto Centre Ltd. ($73,855.88).

These values are for one year and the contract is for two years, with the potential of a one-year extension.

Pyramid Construction Limited for $9,690,973.53 (HST included) will be handling the City’s annual program that maintains an acceptable asphalt serviceability level.

The only other bid came from Modern Paving Limited ($10,519,346.13).

Kal Tire is going to provide the supply and delivery of tires for operational requirements with its bid of $312,334.07 (exclusive of HST), which is split between work for Section 1 ($260,478.33)

and Section 2 ($51,855.74). The contract is for one year, with the potential for another two one-year extensions.

And once again, Kal Tire secured a contract and this time it was for $313,194.00 for tire retreading services for operational requirements. The contract is for one year, with the possibility of two one-year extensions.

The other bid came from City Tire ($350,768.90).

There was another contract for the annual program to maintain an acceptable asphalt serviceability level. Modern Paving Limited got this work for $4,311,756.53 (HST included) and a good chunk of the work has to be done by July 28, 2023.

The other bids were from Farrell’s Excavating Ltd. ($4,385,326.91) and Pyramid Construction Limited ($4,606,374.45).

Board Appointments

Jason Silver and Heather Stamp Nunes’ bids to sit on the St. John’s Sports and Entertainment Board was approved by Council.

Over the past month there was a call for interested people to apply to sit on the board, and 28 applicants submitted their resumes. Silver and Stamp Nunes’ applications were selected.

The funds for the Royal St. John’s Regatta Committee Hall of Fame banquet luncheon also got the OK.

The number of people attending is between 80 to 100 and the estimated cost for the banquet is $5000, said Cllr Ravencroft.

Cllr Korab added this is something they’ve done for a number of years, “maybe not quite the 200 years that the Regatta’s been going,” and they budget this amount for events like this.

The Go Round

Cllr Ron Ellsworth acknowledged this past week the Canadian Council for the Blind’s local chapter hosted the Atlantic games in St. John’s, which he believes last happened a decade ago. He said about 100 people participated and he congratulated the organizers on their fundraising.

Cllr Debbie Hanlon said as the beautiful weather starts up, more people are using trails and she noted the importance of these being accessible to everyone. So she touted the City’s adaptive equipment lending program, a free service available to people with limited mobility. It has a variety of equipment people can borrow to enjoy the outdoors, like all-terrain wheelchairs.

She said people need to know they are available, and can inquire about using them through the City’s website or email [email protected]

She also thanked the local Lululemon for their fundraising for three all-terrain wheelchairs and a bike.

Cllr Korab said he and his eight-year-old daughter will be participating in Shave for the Brave on June 10, so you can find details on donating on his social media accounts.

Cllr Carl Ridgeley passed his condolences to Jesse Wilkins, chairman of the Shea Heights Community board whose wife passed away on May 13 while in Florida.

He said there was an incident in Bowring Park recently where a dog attacked a smaller dog on a leash and two City staff, Jermaine Sheppard and Ed Coady, intervened and wrestled the aggressive dog away from the other animal. He wanted to tip his hat to the two men for their help.

He also wanted people to remember that in parks and trails dogs have to be on a leash and that’s the responsibility of the owner.

Cllr Hickman said work on the pump track going at Quidi Vidi Lake has been delayed. Mr. Sinyard explained there was an issue with the contractor and subcontractor, so work will now start up after the Royal St. John’s Regatta wraps up.

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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.