What Odds at City Hall: 31 January 2022

The City proclaims February as Black History Month, The Calm Place expands its business, and water, water everywhere!

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Mayor Danny Breen is back on the screen and leading the City Council meeting after his absence last week. He opened up with a Proclamation in honour of Black History Month, which starts tomorrow.

“We currently live on unceded Indigenous territory, and Black Lives Matter NL knows that as there is no Black liberation on stolen land; and whereas Black Lives Matter NL asks the City of St. John’s to recognize and strengthen the historical relationships between Indigenous Peoples and the Black community,” said Mayor Breen.

“Black people have been a part of Canada, since the early 1600’s, and have contributed to the country’s and province’s growth, despite the presence of systemic anti-Black racism and other forms of systemic oppression”

“The City recognizes that proclaiming February as Black History Month is only one small step in the long journey towards dismantling systemic racism and oppression of Black people and other marginalized groups in our community, and thus The City of St. John’s commits to take more steps towards this goal”

He was joined—virtually—by a guest, Black Lives Matter NL co-founder Raven Khadeja.

Serenity Now

Back on December 6, Council approved an application from The Calm Place Inc. for a change of Non-Conforming Use at 1 Campbell Avenue so it could be used as a clinic for counselling and therapy services. At the time, the clinic’s hours of operation were listed as Monday to Friday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, and the plan was to have two employees.

The Calm Place Inc. now wants to change up the hours to Monday to Friday, 9 am—8 pm and now have ten employees.

The motion was carried unanimously.

Trojan Technologies Inc.—the sole source supplier—will be carrying out the work on the replacement of Windsor Lake UV #1, #2 and #3 that have reached the end of their anticipated life cycle, for $851,000 (HST excluded).

Cllr Ian Froude said at the next regular meeting he will move to enact the amendment to the St. John’s Electrical By-Law so as to adopt the 2021 Canadian Electrical Code.

Dispensing with Pleasantries

Council also voted to adopt-in-principle the resolutions for St. John’s Municipal Plan Amendment 3, 2022 and St. John’s Development Regulations Amendment 4, 2022, regarding land at 150 New Gower Street.

“If Council approves this today and accepts the adoption in principle, a copy will be forwarded to the province for review and a public hearing will be required following provincial review and release,” said Cllr Froude.

Froude explained Lat49 Architecture Inc. applied on behalf of Manga Hotels (New Gower) Inc. to rezone land at 150 New Gower Street from the Residential Downtown Zone to Commercial Downtown Zone for a 13-storey, 136 room hotel with retail along New Gower Street and a 9-storey, 86 unit residential building at the back of the lot. For that, a Municipal Plan amendment is needed. (Back in 2018, Council set the terms of reference for a Land Use Assessment Report.)

While no concerns were raised at the public meeting, written submissions raised a number of concerns, he said, most were about the impacts it would have on shadowing and wind on the Pleasant Street residences.

“The applicants have attempted to mitigate impacts by setting the building between 5.4 and 6.3 metres from the Pleasant Street lot boundaries. Also, their property is at a lower elevation than Pleasant Street and this grade difference helps reduce the impact of the 9-storey building. The residential building is approximately six to seven storeys above Pleasant Street,” said Froude.

“Some residents felt that the buildings are out of scale with the residential area, and that two buildings were too much for the site. They felt the site should be limited to one building. Further, they felt that the large buildings, in combination with the existing buildings on New Gower Street, will create a wall along the street.”

Though he said City staff understood those concerns, he explained this section of downtown has been recommended for additional building height in the Envision St. John’s Municipal Plan due to its lower elevation and being close to Pitts Memorial Drive. So the building along New Gower Street steps back above the 2nd storey to reduce the effect of a wall along the street.

“And further, the CD Zone allows a floor-area ratio of 5.0. The proposed development has an floor-area ratio of 2.7, so while it appears that the buildings take up much of the site, this meets the standards of the CD Zone.”

Artist’s rendering of the proposed 150 New Gower Street developments as seen from the corner of Springdale Street and New Gower Street. (Source: 31 January 2022 City Agenda.)
Artist’s rendering of the proposed 150 New Gower Street developments as seen from Pleasant Street. (Source: 31 January 2022 City Agenda.)

Council also unanimously voted to approve the resolutions for the St. John’s Municipal Plan Amendment Number 5, 2022, and St. John’s Development Regulations Amendment Number 7, 2022, concerning a Car Sales Lot at 350 Kenmount Road/9 Kiwanis Street

The application has seen a lot of City Hall attention. To quickly catch you up: Royal Garage Limited wanted to rezone a portion of the lot from an open space zone to the Commercial Kenmount Zone but the property has changed hands since the application was submitted to the City. The new owner wants to proceed with the amendment.

Back on December 13, Council adopted the St. John’s Municipal Plan Amendment Number 5, 2022, and St. John’s Development Regulations Amendment Number 7, 2022. On top of that, they scheduled a virtual public hearing for January 12, 2022.

Cllr Froude said the virtual public hearing happened and Council can proceed with the final steps on the amendment.

We briefly (virtually) lost Mayor Breen but he popped back online before the vote.

The Go Round

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary kicked it off with a shout out to Universal Corporate Wear, which partnered with the City’s REAL Program in support of Pink Shirt Day that’s happening on February 23.

She also said people should keep an eye out for upcoming details on ChillFest.

On top of that, she touted the Winter Activity Centre at Pippy Park — adding “Right now it’s a bit of a moot point when you look out the window and you don’t see much snow happening but we’re hoping for more snow,” she said.

At the centre people can rent equipment like snowshoes and skis so they can enjoy the winter weather.

“I’m sure our snow season is not done yet,” O’Leary declared. In addition, she said she’s heard a lot of good things about this year’s sidewalk snow clearing.

Cllr Maggie Burton said she was glad the City was recognizing Black History Month.

As well, she took a few moments to talk about the Youth Engagement Working Group and the Online Youth Panel. There are currently two opportunities and they’re looking for people ages 18 to 30 to participate in the group and give feedback on living in St. John’s. Just head to Engage! St John’s.

Cllr Sandy Hickman also gave a hats off to how the sidewalk snow clearing has gone.

He added we did have a bit of rain this past weekend but that ChillFest does not have a white water rafting component—which is too bad, because I saw some wild photos of overflowing rivers.

Cllr Hickman then wondered if they could get an update on road closures. Deputy City Manager of Planning and Engineering Jason Sinyard obliged, explaining Portugal Cove Road was inspected and the structure is safe, as is the structure on Petty Harbour Road.

Cllr Debbie Hanlon mentioned the passing of Harry Steele, as he was a well known businessman in the province and beyond. She added he was the one who encouraged her to go into sales, helping her career.

Cllr Ron Ellsworth echoed those sentiments on the loss of Steele.

Cllr Jill Bruce thanked Deputy City Manager of Public Works Lynnann Winsor and the Public Works team and dispatch for all their work over the weekend. She added she’d heard from an older man in the East End who was worried a build up of snow would lead to flooding in his house and she said that within three hours the snow had been cleared.

Cllr Jamie Korab wished good luck to Team Newfoundland and Labrador competing in the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Cllr Froude also wanted to follow Deputy Mayor’s comments about the rental system at Pippy Park, saying he and his family used the snowshoe rental this past weekend.

He added he’d also like to encourage people to participate in the traffic calming policy that’s under review.

Cllr Carl Ridgeley also thanked City staff for working this past weekend. On a different note, he also encouraged people to get their home’s civic number posted outside their properties, explaining he heard from a firefighter this has been an issue. The last thing you want in an emergency is for the responders to be unable to find your home because they can’t see the number you live at. He said this can be a matter of life and death

Mayor Breen also gave a shout out to staff for working in challenging conditions. He also said it wasn’t just roads that were damaged but also the trail system. So staff are fixing those trails up and getting them back in shape but some areas have been washed out.

Finally, he congratulated the board of directors for the Victoria Park Foundation, who raised $700,000 in the last seven years for the refurbishment and revitalization of the downtown park.

“Again thank you to the volunteers that have taken this on, it’s greatly appreciated. And Victoria Park just looks fantastic, so thank you once again.”

And that was Monday’s City Council meeting—see you in February!

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