What Odds at City Hall: 26 September 2022

Guaranteed Basic Income is back briefly before Council, the City signs off on a lot of tenders, and the MacMorran Community Centre is looking to expand.
St. John's City Hall on New Gower Street.
St. John’s City Hall. Photo by Elizabeth Whitten.

All but Cllr Maggie Burton were present at today’s Council meeting.

Mayor Danny Breen was back presiding over Council after being absent last Monday due to monarchy-funeral related business.

Post-tropical storm Fiona was naturally on everyone’s minds and Mayor Breen expressed Council’s condolences to all those impacted. His thoughts are with the people, the mayor and staff, as well as the first responders.

“It’s indescribable, really, the feelings as we watch the situation unfold. We want to reassure the people of Port aux Basques and western Newfoundland that the City of St. John’s is with them,” he said.

He’s also contacted the mayor and offered the City’s  support.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, Mayor Breen expresses condolences and offers support on behalf of the City to the southwest coast of Newfoundland. (Screencap from: City Council Meeting live stream).

Guaranteed Basic Income Deferred

At the last meeting, City council voted to defer a plan to send a letter in support of Guaranteed Basic Income. The topic is back before them this week. If you tuned in last week, you know there was a lot of back and forth about it amongst Councillors. If you didn’t, you can read about it here.

The issue, however, was only before council for a brief moment. Deputy Mayor O’Leary asked for a deferral to next week so they had time to clarify some of the language in the motion, which was unanimously voted for.

21 McNeil Street. (Source: City Agenda, 26 September, 2022).

Council voted to sign off on parking relief for one parking space at 20 McNeil Street so a single detached dwelling with a subsidiary apartment could be built.

Cllr Jamie Korab said an application was submitted to the City to demolish an existing single detached dwelling and build a new one with a subsidiary apartment. But such a development needs two parking spaces, one for each dwelling unit.

“To maintain the 50% Front Yard landscaping requirement, the driveway is not wide enough. It’s only wide enough for one vehicle. Therefore, parking relief for one space is requested,” he said.

“The driveway provided can accommodate stacked parking for two vehicles, which would be in tandem. Parking Services has advised that there’s adequate on-street parking available and one additional parking space for the new unit would not cause parking concerns within this neighbourhood.”

30 Donovan’s Road. (Source: City Agenda, 26 September, 2022).

Council then voted to unanimously approve the application for a Home Occupation for glass service work at 30 Donovan’s Road.

The business is located in a 55m² garage and space will also be used for storage and cutting of glass for off-site installation. It will operate Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m and onsite parking is provided. As well, the proposed use is within the Rural Residential Infill Zone.

The City received two submissions about the proposed business, one in favour while the other had issues of commercializing in a residential area. The person also worried about parking, traffic, and any environmental impacts from glass.

According to the agenda, the applicant has said they only have two service vans, which are gone during the day, and there’s limited traffic to the home. In addition, the glass is packed up offsite, so there are no deliveries. And any leftover glass is disposed of as part of normal offshore operations and there is no environmental impact.

Tender Talks

Modern Paving Limited secured a bid for $309,062.50 (HST included) to supply bulk cold mix asphalt supply during the winter season for the City to repair potholes and road cuts on an as- required basis. It also includes bags of cold mix asphalt for inventory stock.

It was the sole bidder.

Crane Supply was awarded a contract for $375,637.15 (HST included) to supply and deliver watermain pipe and fittings.

The other two bidders were Wolseley Canada, who was disqualified and Emco Waterworks for $380,649.99.

Tristar Mechanical Ltd. got the contract – valued at $2,907,200 (HST included) – for the upgrades to four dual media filters at the Bay Bulls Big Pond Water Treatment Plant.

A substantial amount of the work has to be done in 11 months time, said Cllr Sandy Hickman.

“To continue with this important but less scintillating work here,” Cllr Hickman brought up the next contract to be awarded.

Univar Canada won the bid – for $496,041 (HST included) – to supply and deliver Sodium Bisulphite 38% premium grade, to be delivered by tanker truck in 7,000 litre batches on an as- and when-required basis, required for dechlorination at the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The contract is for one year, with the possibility of two one-year extensions, he added.

MacMorran Community Centre Eyes Expansion With Land

Council signed off on approving the sale of City land at Brother McSheffrey Lane to the MacMorran Community Centre.

Back in 2001, the City conveyed land to the MacMorran Centre – where they built a community centre. They now want to expand the building and they want the land for it. Given that  the centre is a registered charity, and that the lands conveyed in 2001 were done so  for $1, it’s proposed that the additional land now being requested be conveyed for the same amount. The centre will provide the survey, said Cllr Ian Froude.

Cllr Ellsworth mentioned the centre has been waiting since late July or early August to get a permit to expand. He said he cleared it with the City’s Legal Council “but as long as the City is okay with the permit moving ahead as the land owner, we can give them permission to move on. So I’ve asked Staff to pay attention to that when it comes forward.”

The Go Round

First off, Deputy Mayor O’Leary said it was devastating to see how our neighbours on the southwest coast have been impacted by the storm.

She also asked at some point if there could be an update on the process or push for social procurement policies in the province, which would impact the City.

Finally, she wanted to bring attention to Orange Shirt Day, which is happening this Friday. It brings attention to the children who survived Canada’s residential schools, as well as those who didn’t. She added First Light is encouraging everyone to wear orange this Friday in an act of solidarity, and also wear it throughout the year, to recognize decolonization and Indigenous rights.

Cllr Hickman expressed his concern for the people on the southwest coast, particularly those who have lost their property, and to the family of the woman who died.

“It’s just so upsetting to see that; when you lose a life it just brings it home and makes it all the more devastating,” he said.

He added in this province people work together and hopes people across the province will contribute to support those in need.

Cllr Debbie Hanlon encouraged people to give feedback on their experience with the City’s and CNIB-joint venture of the BlindSquare Event app, which was a pilot program in the Pedestrian downtown mall. This applies to people who used the app as well as those who didn’t.

She also reminded people that next week is Seniors’ Week.

Cllr Jill Bruce noted that construction of the public washrooms at Denis Lawlor Park has started! There are now safety gates up.

She also echoed the comments from her colleagues over the devastation along the southwest coast, adding it was hard to watch the events over the weekend. She also mentioned the work of reporters who were on the scene covering it and how hard this can be on them.

Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft also joined in, offering her condolences to the southwest coast, and said that she had watched it unfold from New Brunswick.

She was also recently speaking with executive director of the gateway Status of Women Council, Megan Bateman, who told her that this event has exacerbated the affordable housing crisis in the region. There have been more than 19 homes lost, and one might have been an apartment building.

She asked anyone with influence to consider how this plays into the existing problems and make sure they do what they can to ensure the province’s affordable housing problem is dealt with.

As well, Rosh Hashanah began yesterday and she sent out her “best wishes for a prosperous New Year.”

Mayor Breen said over the next two weeks people may be contacted by MQO Research, the group conducting the City’s resident satisfaction survey. He encouraged people to participate if they are contacted. People can also read the results from 2018 and 2020, and this years’ results will be available later on in the year.

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