What Odds at City Hall: 6 June 2022

Galway is getting a warehouse, the heritage by-laws are set to get spruced up, and the City has signed off on upcoming summer festival dates.

Mayor Danny Breen was absent from the council meeting, with Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary presiding over Monday’s council meeting, freshly returned from an illness.

Cllr Debbie Hanlon was attending virtually (she had to text her votes in due to technical difficulties), with Cllrs Maggie Burton and Ian Froude absent—though he is in transit to attend a meeting.

First up, Deputy Mayor O’Leary proclaimed that June is Recreation Month.

“The City of St. John’s recognizes that recreation enhances quality of life, active living and lifelong learning, helps people to live happier and longer, develops creativity, and builds healthy bodies and positive lifestyles,” she read out.

She was also joined by Recreation NL executive director Gary Milley, the City’s Facilities Division Community Services Manager Carla Squires, and Facilities Division

Community Services Supervisor Leslie Kunz.

Council approved the construction of a 53.9 m² accessory building in the floodplain buffer at 4 Connolly’s Lane—but it has to conform to the requirements of Section 6.2 of the St. John’s Development Regulations.

4 Connolly’s Lane. (Source: City Agenda, 6 June 2022.)

They then voted to allow the re-established building line setback at 5.45 meters at 2 Florizel Place for the construction of a porch.

2 Florizel Place. (Source: City Agenda, 6 June 2022.)

Council then approved the minimum zone requirements for a proposed warehouse at 225 Danny Drive in Galway as follows: a building line 45.8 meters, Side Yard(s) 99.4 meters and Rear Yard 89.68 meters.

225 Danny Drive. (Source: City Agenda, 6 June 2022.)

Antenna Aesthetics

Eastlink is putting a rooftop telecommunications antenna site at 100 Elizabeth Avenue.

There was one submission sent to the City, which was against the proposal, citing health concerns for residents of a nearby condo.

However, the Federal Government regulated all telecommunication systems under Industry Canada. As well, Health Canada has established safety guidelines for exposure to radio frequency fields, which Eastlink has to follow, explained Cllr Jamie Korab.

Here’s what this concerned person wrote: “From estatic [sic] point of view our cozy looking building will look like military base with all these 6 antennas 3 meters tall on the top of the building. However, my main concern is the Health harm that is mentioned in the contract between Elizabeth Towers condo management and telecommunication company. The impact of such antennas on human health is not well studied yet.”

“Since residents are unwilling participating in these experiment, I would request that from the funds received by the building management from telecommunication company, health insurance funds to be established to cover the cost of any treatment required to the residents from now on in case if cancer onset happens.”

Anyway, this passed eight to zero.

100 Elizabeth Avenue. (Source: City Agenda, 6 June 2022.)

Some People Don’t Care for Day Care

A family home child care has got the go-ahead to set up at 338 Topsail Road. 

It will be owner-operated and accommodate up to seven children. The floor area is 40 m² and will operate Monday to Friday, 7:30 am to 5 pm. On-site parking is provided, said Cllr Korab.

The City only received one submission and it was against the application, citing the loss of quiet in the neighbourhood as well as privacy on the neighbouring Nightingale Road—as well as the impact another local business would have on the area.

That person wrote in, “Regardless of the situation happening across the street, please take into consideration that our [sic] of respect to our neighbourhood, it is still both mine and my long-term tenants preference to find elsewhere for this daycare operation located at 338 Topsail Road.”

Which is kinda funny, because the whole point of a home-based business is that it’s, you know, based at your home. This submission basically suggests the homeowner move so they can operate the daycare.

The submitter also complained about toys left on the other home’s front yard and her tenants have complained about the noise.

It passed eight to zero, with |Deputy Mayor O’Leary commenting that she was supporting this because “this is a desperate need that we see in our community, certainly childcare is a very big topic in the community and certainly doing them out of home-based scenarios with very minimal impact certainly in the neighbourhoods, I think, is a very positive thing.”

These were all passing at a pretty nice clip with no diversion into comments or questions, which might have promoted Cllr Korab to say he wanted to let the public know, “it seems like we are going through these [items on the agenda] quickly but these do go to the development committee which has about a dozen staff members. So they are vetted. They go through everything there so when it comes to Council it’s pretty polished and ready to go.”

With that out of the way, he launched into the next item of business, approving landscaping within the floodplain buffer at the rear of 76C Old Bay Bulls Road.

76C Old Bay Bulls Road. (Source: City Agenda, 6 June 2022.)

So Many Tenders

Hickman Chrysler secured a bid to supply and deliver two new cab and chassis’ for $146,912.50 (HST included). It was the sole bidder.

For $1,203,170.25 (HST included) Precision Excavation Ltd. was awarded a bid for the replacement or upgrades to various water and sewer mains, fire hydrants, and associated infrastructure throughout the City.

The other bids came from Pyramid Construction Limited ($1,405,375.90), Modern Paving Limited ($1,425,068.50) and Dexter Construction Company Limited ($1,469,735.65).

Cahill Instrumentation & Technical Services Ltd. secured the $101,886 contract to install 22 of the 26 Level 2 Electric Vehicle charging stations, which were purchased by the City through a supply contract by the City from Flo Inc., at various locations across St. John’s.

The other bidders were TopNotch Electrical Ltd., H & F Elctrical Ltd., Black & McDonald Ltd. and Talon Energy Services Inc. There were no values attached to these bids though.

Cllr Korab did ask if there was any news on when this work might be completed, but Deputy City Manager of Planning, Engineering & Regulatory Services Jason Sinyard said a date isn’t available.

Cllr Hickman said that according to an email from Sustainability Coordinator Edmundo Fausto, that information was not known.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary suggested when that date is known it be sent out in order to keep the public up-to-date.

Canada’s Big Truck Rental also secured the work to supply and deliver four new recycling trucks with a bid of $712,800.

It’s for a 19-month lease, said Cllr Sandy Hickman.

The other bid came from AmTruck but it was disqualified.

Saunders Equipment Ltd.—with a bid of $197,771.54 (HST not included)—for the supply and delivery of Labrie Parts for the fleet department when needed. It is also the sole supplier for this equipment so the tender didn’t go to open call.

Notice of Heritage Motion Upcoming

As Cllr Maggie Burton wasn’t present, Cllr Ophelia Ravencoft stepped up to handle this next bit of business on the Heritage By-Law.

She explained this is an information note about some amendments to the Heritage By-Law that came into effect in October of last year. However since then a few parts have been identified that need modification and clarification, which she said are mainly minor, such as clarifying the materials that can be used for building trims.

If you want to see it you can look it up in the agenda.

So at the next regular meeting Council will move to amend the Heritage By-Law to replace Schedule “D” – Heritage Area Design Standards with an updated Schedule “D.”

Council then signed off on 8 Ordnance Street—a designated heritage building—getting 16 windows replaced.

Cllr Ravencroft said, “the applicant is proposing to replace sixteen (16) windows with primarily vinyl, single-hung windows. The aluminum storm windows will be removed, the windows will be the same size and shape as the existing windows, the trims will be unaltered, and the stained-glass transom will remain.”

“The centre of the bay windows at the front of the house will be picture windows, but the second storey window will include a false mullion (centre bar) to replicate a single-hung window. The upper storey windows are bedroom windows so they must meet egress, and fire and life safety requirements.”

8 Ordnance Street. (Source: City Agenda, 6 June 2022.)

Housing Needs Assessment

This is an information note, explained Cllr Ravencroft, on updating the housing needs assessment as per the the 10-Year Affordable Housing Strategy.

“The City of St. John’s has committed to conducting an updated Housing Needs Assessment every three years,” she said. “The last of these was conducted in 2019. An updated HNA will enable the City and stakeholders to look at current and projected housing supply and demand over the entire housing continuum, and inform ongoing strategies, advocacy, and initiatives within the local housing sector.”

“The next assessment will be timed with the release of 2021 census data. Next steps include drafting an [Request For Proposals] with the Affordable Housing Working Group consulting, of course, and contracting a research consultant to carry-out the assessment and produce a report.”

Deputy Mayor O’Leary said she thought this is “a very timely and excellent exercise to do,” pointing out there’s been a shift in housing needs.

Cllr Ravencroft added she’s curious to see what comes out of this and hopes it will help inform the City moving forward. She said she was just talking with a fourth floor staff member about this, given how hot the housing market is and the affordable housing crisis as serious as it is. 

“It feels like such a catastrophic time to be entering the housing market, whether that’s if you’re buying and suddenly find yourself priced out or renting and found nothing is available within your price range.”

The City has signed off on selling land adjacent to 22 Blue Puttee Drive.

The owner of 22 Blue Puttee Drive came to the City, interested in purchasing the parcel of land adjacent to his property and there were no objections about it from the City departments, said Cllr Jill Bruce.

The purchase price has been set at $5 per square foot, plus HST and administrative fees. The purchaser will have to provide a survey that shows the exact square footage, and the purchase price will reflect that. The property owner will also be required to consolidate this land with his existing property, she said.

22 Blue Puttee Drive. (Source: City Agenda, 6 June 2022.)

Summer Fun Sign Off

Council okayed several upcoming summer events: George Street events (NASCAR on George, Canada’s Big Birthday Bash, and George Street Festival), as well as City of St. John’s Canada Day and Folk Festival.

The George Street Events are  Nascar on George, on June 25 from 7 pm – 11 pm. They are asking for a road closure on George Street from Adelaide Street to Water Street, said Cllr Ron Ellsworth.

Canada’s Big Birthday Bash is taking place on June 30 from 5 pm – 3 am. They want the roads on George Street from Adelaide Street to Water Street closed, as well as a Noise By-Law extension until 3 am.

George Street Festival on July 27 – August 3, 7 pm – 3 am daily. They’re also asking for a road closure request on George Street from Adelaide Street to Water Street and Noise By-Law extension until 3 am for each day.

Next up, the City’s own Canada Day celebrations. The City of St. John’s Canada Day’s Sunrise Ceremony is happening on July 1 and running from 6 am – 7 am. It will be hosted by Parks Canada on Signal Hill and no approvals are required; they’re just letting the public know it’s going ahead, said Cllr Ellsworth.

Then there’s the Family Fun Day 12 pm – 4 pm on July 1, taking place at King George V Field. The City is also getting Carnell Drive closed from 11 am – 11 pm.

Finally, the Canada Day Fireworks is also scheduled for July 1 from 8 pm – 11 pm, though if it rains it’s scheduled for July 2.

A concert at the Quidi Vidi Bandstand will also kick off at 8 pm with the fireworks starting at 10 pm. The Boulevard, Lake Avenue, Clancey Drive and Lakeview Avenue will be closed from 8 pm – 11 pm.

The Folk Festival is also back to an in-person event and the three-day celebration will once again be taking over Bannerman Park. Its setup starts July 5, though the festival is from July 8 – Sunday July 10 (with rain date set for July 11), from 5:30 pm – 12 am. The festival has asked for a Noise By-Law extension until 12 am for each event day. 

“There will be multiple stages, food vendors, children’s events, crafts, participatory events and workshops to highlight the cultural heritage of the Province,” said Cllr Ellsworth, as well as a 19+ beer garden.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary said it was great to see so many activities getting back on track with in-person events after a hard couple of years.

The Go Round

Cllr Ellsworth was first to talk and focused on Pride and said it was good to see community recognition going on, noting that Cllr Bruce shared on social media recently that St. Paul’s school council now has a rainbow crosswalk done.

“Such a small gesture but such a loud statement,” he said.

He pointed out people can go to websites like St. John’s Pride to get upcoming events, adding it’s great to see corporations offering their support and while it’s wonderful to see it one month of the year, he said there are companies who do it all year round, like Harvey’s Oil and their pride truck.

However, he said it was unfortunate there are still challenges to be faced with being open and feeling safe.

He also announced a new queer safe space, Kaleidoscope, is opening on George Street.

Cllr Bruce wanted to remind drivers to be careful, as there have been a few accidents in the east end as of late. As well, schools will let out soon for the summer so more kids will be around. And she hopes they won’t see any more accidents. 

Cllr Ravenrcroft wanted to echo Cllr Ellsworth’s comments about Pride.

“The arcane historical reason that St. John’s celebrates Pride in July has always kind of escaped me but I honestly don’t care because it’s twice as much celebration.”

A few hours ago, St. John’s Pride announced over Facebook that the Pride Parade is going ahead this year on July 24 starting at 2 pm at City Hall. If you want more details you can follow the organizers on their Facebook page or other social media accounts for updates.

Peace Love n’ Pride also has a number of events in parallel.

She also gave her congrats to the owners of Kaleidoscope, adding that in early May she was in Toronto’s gay village and felt very safe during her time there, “and that’s not always a privilege that I’ve had in my life and it’s something I’m starting to feel much more strongly here.”

She also added her thanks to everything the queer community, trans, nonbinary and Two-Spirit community for everything they’ve done to make the city and province safer.

Cllr Korab said the Mews Centre’s elevator has stopped working and they’re waiting on parts. He said this helps highlight why replacing it with a newer facility is so important.

He also thanked the Canada Drive residents who came out to St. Matthew’s School to talk about the Active Transportation Network.

As well, next week his hair will be gone after he takes part in Shave for the Brave with his daughter. So far they’ve managed to raise around $7000.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary had a number of points to end the meeting on. First off she passed on condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the late Christoper Pratt. He died on Sunday.

She also noted, on happier news, that Music and Concerts is back to in-person events after two years of virtual events. They will start June 11 and wrap up October 11. More information can be found on the City’s website.

As well, Council has received some communication about a new initiative that just started in Halifax, where people who have been fined for parking violations can have the fee waived if they spend a certain amount within a few hours at a local business. O’Leary asked legal counsel Linda Bishop if that was possible here.

However, Bishop explained that under our legislation, that wouldn’t be possible. The City’s parking regulations are under the Highway Traffic Act, so all parking fees are sent to the province—which takes an administration cut—and sends the rest back to the City. So the City can’t legally waive fees like Halifax can.

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter.

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