What Odds at City Hall: 6 December 2021

Council moves forward on Mews, a Persian restaurant is coming to the East End, and the West End Fire Station inches toward Heritage status.

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To start off, Mayor Danny Breen proclaimed December 5 was the 90th Anniversary of the St. John’s Elks Club, which was formed on that date all the way back in 1931 within the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

He was joined by Director of Membership for the St. John’s Elks Lodge 245, Rhonda Skanes.

Also to note, Cllrs Maggie Burton and Ophelia Ravencorft were absent from Monday’s council meeting, and Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary, and Cllrs Debbie Hanlon and Jamie Korab were present virtually.

To start off, the Council approved a change in Non-Conforming Use at 1 Campbell Avenue from an Office Use to a Clinic Use for counselling/therapy services. The application was submitted by The Calm Place Inc.

OpenCorporates lists the company’s directors as Alison Petten and Jenna Kean.

Cllr Korab said the clinic’s hours of operation will be Monday to Friday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, and the plan is to have two employees with onsite parking provided.

New Resto Coming to the East End

Council then approved a Discretionary Use application for a restaurant at 585 Torbay Road, which was submitted by Persepolis Persian Restaurant Limited.

OpenCorporates—seriously can’t recommend this site enough—lists Negin Mirzabeigi Fini as the company’s sole director.

Cllr Korab said it will have up to four employees and will be open seven days a week, from 11:00 am – 10:00 pm, with onsite parking provided.

It will be nice to see a restaurant move into the building. That location was once the home of O’Leva Olive Oils & Vinegars Gourmet Pantry but it vacated some time ago and the spot has been empty since.

Clean Air Solutions secured a contract valued at $489,072 (HST included)—for one year—to provide HRV Service for Non-Profit Housing. The company was the sole bidder.

The contract is for two years, with a potential one-year extension, said Cllr Sandy Hickman.

Possible Heritage Nod to Old Fire Station

The council then signed off on a Notice of Motion that at the next regular meeting they will move a motion to adopt a Heritage Designation By-Law for the former West End Fire Station at 265 Lemarchant Road, so it will be designated as a Heritage Building.

Cllr Burton was absent, so Cllr Ian Froude said he’d give the notice.

Mews Centre Work

This next item on the agenda was deferred by Cllr Korab at last week’s council meeting and now it’s back for a decision.. 

Newfoundland Power is in the process of upgrading and installing required poles and overhead wires to bring the new Mews Centre to the power grid, explained Cllr Korab. It requires installation of a pole and guy-wire at 133 Blackmarsh Road.

For the work they need an expropriation of an easement at the front of 133 Blackmarsh Road. Cllr Korab said in the last week he’s been able to speak with the homeowner, who has asked the legal department to reach out to them.

He then pointed out—which is in the online agenda—the recommended price for this expropriation for the homeowner is approximately $336 “but as I assume our legal department will be reaching out to the homeowners, that’s something they can negotiate. I just want to get clarification before I put it forward.”

Cllr Ellsworth followed up with asking for his own clarification on whether the price tag was $336 or if it was going to be negotiated.

Senior legal counsel Linda Bishop stepped in, explaining the standard for expropriation of a municipality is fair market value.

Bishop said: “So we have done our own assessment with respect to the fair market value of that property. It is subject, of course, to final agreement with the homeowner, who would be entitled to get their own evaluation. So we will continue to negotiate with the party and it also may change subject to the exact piece of property that we end up expropriating.”

So they don’t have an exact price right now, she said.

Still, the motion carried.

O’Leary Out, Ellsworth In on Transportation Commission

Deputy Mayor O’Leary has resigned as one of the three councillors on the St. John’s Transportation Commission, citing other commitments. Council accepted her resignation and then had an e-poll to fill her spot and the winner was Cllr Ellsworth.

On Monday, Council approved Cllr Ellsworth filling the spot.

Art Break

The council signed off on the 2021 Art Procurement jury’s recommendations so City Hall is getting some more art added to its brutalist concrete walls and other public buildings.

Deputy mayor O’Leary said there was a call for submissions and 115 pieces were submitted from 44 artists. The jury for the Art Procurement program met virtually on November 29 and picked out 20 pieces. In total, they cost $19,412, falling a little under the annual budget for Art Procurement of $20,000.

According to the agenda, the most expensive piece of art bought was Joanne Cole’s There was a Considerable Vein Running Up Through the Cliff, Three or Four Hundred Feet High ($2,200).

Painting of a baryte vein in a cliff at Deadman's Bay in St. Bride's, NL.
Joanne Cole, There was a considerable vein running up through the cliff three or four hundred feet high. Cross Point, St. Brides, NL. Acrylic on canvas. 60 x 36 in

Dewcor Preps for Climate Change

Council also signed off on creating a regional stormwater detention facility in the climate change floodplain and buffer to support the Galway Industrial Area.

Cllr Korab said: “In 2019, Council adopted the PNA, which is the Galway Protected Natural Area and also adopted the St. John’s Development Regulations Amendment No. 684, 2019, which set out the boundaries of the Galway Protected Natural Area to be protected from development. The intent was that lands outside of the PNA would be available for development.”

That same year, Dewcor—which is former premier Danny Williams’ company—told the City it planned to evaluate using the Galway Protected Natural Area for stormwater detention to accommodate stormwater runoff from some of the proposed lots along Danny Drive and potentially some development in the surrounding catchment area.

In turn, Cllr Korab said Dewcor was advised that the floodplain mapping in the area would have to be updated to include the proposed detention storage area within the PNA.

“In 2021, Dewcor submitted two climate-change-rainfall floodplains for the Galway Industrial Park. These models are based on the 100 year event with future climate change. Figure 2 attached shows the climate-change floodplain through the Industrial Area with no stormwater detention provided within the PNA. Figure 3 shows the area with Dewcor’s proposed use of the PNA as a stormwater detention facility. Creating the stormwater detention facility has the added benefit of containing the floodplain wholly within the PNA and allowing the development of the industrial lots.”

He added under the Envision St. John’s Development Regulations, 2021, development is not permitted in a waterway or the buffer adjacent to a body of water or in a floodplain. However, Council can permit some types of development in a buffer of a waterway, like the construction of stormwater detention infrastructure.

On top of that, he said Council may permit certain types of development in bodies of water, like the construction of stormwater detention infrastructure.

The Go Round

Mayor Breen started off by reminding us Monday marked 32 years since the mass shooting at École Polytechnique massacre which killed 14 women. He asked that we take a moment to remember them, as well as the other victims of gender-based violence, “as well as our commitment to addressing this pervasive issue in our municipality and across our country.”

Deputy Mayor O’Leary added the women who were killed were specifically killed because they were women. “So we need to continue to remember and honour them, as we continue to take responsibility and action to confront all forms of violence against girls and women.”

She also said she and two members of the city staff met recently with someone advocating for the Muslim community on the design for the new Mews Centre. She explained it was to ensure the engagement process was being adopted in the design elements.

On a more festive note, she reminded people the Festival of Music and Light at Bowring Park is running until January 6.

Cllr Hanlon had notes for upcoming seniors’ events, saying registration for the winter 2022 programs are open and the City Guide is going to arrive soon by mail.

Cllr Korab added the City Guide has a lot of valuable information in it, like the recycling schedule.

He then spoke about Give the Gift of Play, which is part of the REAL Program that provides recreation and leisure opportunities to children and youth in financial need by matching them with an organized recreational activity of their choice.

As in previous council meetings, Cllr Hickman wanted to remind the public that on January 1st they had better have clear garbage bags.

Cllr Ellsworth said this is Thrive’s 20th year serving the community and he wanted to thank the board, volunteers and staff.

As well, he said the St. John’s Minor Baseball Association’s registration is open.

Finally, he said he’d like to acknowledge Minister John Abbott and the disability policy office. In the past week they announced the Accessibility Act, which is a move to be more fully inclusive.

Cllr Hickman also spoke up again, saying he wanted to note that Karen Sherriff has been made CEO of the Canada Games Host Society.

Cllr Jill Bruce also gave a shout out to the St. John’s East Scout troops and their leader who were out Sunday morning at Denis Lawlor Park collecting garbage as part of their community service work.

Also Indy readers, mark your calendars because next Monday we’ll be tracking the budget. Yeehaw!

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