What Odds at City Hall 6 March 2023

More tiny homes coming to St. John’s, Quidi Vidi is getting its summer Wharf back, and grade 5 students have named the City’s snow plows.
St. John's City Hall on New Gower Street.
St. John’s City Hall. Photo by Elizabeth Whitten.

First up Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary – sitting in for Mayor Danny Breen – proclaimed March Easter Seals Month.

“Approximately 100,000 people of all ages in our province live with disabilities such as physical, sensory, cognitive, or other disabilities that present barriers to full participation in society,” she said.

“Whereas Easter Seals Newfoundland & Labrador is a charitable organization with a vision for a community where all people with disabilities live full, healthy, and active lives. A mission to engage, inspire, and maximize opportunities for people with disabilities of all ages by providing meaningful programs and services.”

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary proclaims March Easter Seals Month. Source: Screenshot of Council Meeting by Elizabeth Whitten.

Representing Easter Seals NL were Kari Dunphy and Laura Douglas.

Tiny Homes Sprouting Up

Council unanimously approved two side yard variances of 10% at 74 Leslie Street to allow two tiny homes!

74 Leslie Street.  (Source: City Agenda March 6 2023

There was only one submission, who cited concerns about setting a precedent for tiny homes in the City – though please note they are allowed – as well as fire safety concerns, heritage concerns for overall design, lack of parking and snow clearing, and storage areas.

“Tiny homes were added to our Residential 3 (R3), Residential Downtown (RD) and the Pocket Neighbourhood Zones. They are permitted uses where these zones occur throughout the city,” said Cllr Korab.

“Any reduction in development setbacks would still require all applicable fire regulations and fire separations to be enforced, as outlined in the National Building Code. This property is located in the Heritage Area 3 and all standards from the Heritage By-Law aspect would apply to this proposed development. No parking spaces are required for a tiny home dwelling. Snow storage is available on the site in the side yards, just like all the other homes on that street.”

Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft said this is a wonderful precedent for smaller developers, citing the need for more density and quickly.

Viking Corporation ULC application for a light industrial use at 710 Torbay Road – the old Rona building – for an innovation centre was signed off on.

710 Torbay Road. (Source: City Agenda March 6 2023

“The Centre will contain shared office space, light industrial space for activities such as 3D printing, and areas to provide programming to accelerate learning. Hours of operation are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking on site,” said Cllr Korab.

Cllr Ellsworth had a question about the hours of operation, wondering if the City was limiting hours (which he was worried about) or was it just for information?

Deputy City Manager of Planning, Engineering & Regulatory Services Jason Sinyard said it was for information.

Back in December the provincial government announced the building would become a hub for our growing tech sector, which will be a collaborative space.

Council then approved parking relief for one parking space and to set the zone standards to allow a proposed building expansion at 716 Water Street – aka First Light headquarters – as follows: Rear Yard setback – 3.98m, (Left) Side Yard – 9.89m, and (Right) Side Yard – 1.61m.

Busy Quidi Vidi Summer

Looks like Mark Dobbin’s Long Harbour Holdings Inc wants to bring back his outdoor Quidi Vidi outdoor eatery known as The Wharf.

Council voted unanimously to approve an application through his company for a whopping seven restaurants, which consists of five food trucks, one ice cream shop and one tent as a temporary building for food and beer at 11 Barrows Road. There will also be picnic tables.

11 Barrows Road. (Source: City Agenda March 6 2023

Its hours of operation will be seven days a week, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. for the food trucks and tent area and 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. for the ice-cream shop. The proposed use will be temporary for two  seasons, May to September 2023 and May to September 2024.

When it comes to parking there are six parking spaces provided along Maple View Place and the company is asking for additional parking relief. A shuttle service will be provided from nearby parking areas. No outdoor speakers are proposed.

While there were letters in support, some people raised concerns about traffic, parking, and garbage collection.

Cllr Korab said they got a similar application two years ago, and the agreement period was for two years, so the company is reapplying for its discretionary use application.

Cllr Ellsworth wanted to make sure that the parking approval is contingent on the shuttle service.

Council then approved the new consolidated Humane Services Policy and rescind the related policies.

The new policy consolidates policies on Lost and Found Services, Impounded Animals, Care of Impounded Animals, Registration, Surrender of Unwanted Animals, Euthanasia, By-Law Enforcement, Emergency and Humane Trapping of Animals.

You can read the details starting on page 43 of the agenda.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary thanked staff for their work on updating policies, as there have been a few in the last few weeks.


Next up, Council voted on a contract to establish a standing offer agreement for the rental of construction equipment for use throughout the City. 

Cllr Hickman said there are a couple of extensive lists here and the contract is to establish standings offers for various types of equipment.

“This is not for guaranteed work but a pricing guide, pending availability of equipment.”

The City will have a contract with each vendor.

The contract date starts December 31, 2023, plus there is the possibility of two one-year extensions, said Cllr Hickman.

“Right of first refusal is given to the vendor with the lowest price. Subsequent vendors are contacted in order of ranking until the request can be fulfilled. The estimated annual contract spend for general services is $229,959, and for Robin Hood Bay is $222,720, HST excluded,” he said.

Dexter Construction Company Limited – with a bid of $4,392,502.05 (HST Included) – secured the contract for Phase 5 of Water Street Infrastructure Improvements, which is Waldegrave Street and Prescott Street Intersections.

Sinyard said construction is expected to start April 1 and be completed by the end of June.

The other bids came from Pyramid Construction Limited ($4,674,169.25), Coady Construction & Excavating Limited ($5,007,698), and Modern Paving Limited ($5,631,003.75).

Name That Snow Plow!

I hadn’t heard of this before, but there was a contest to name the City’s 10 snow plows. The names were sent in by students from five schools and the Southlands Community Centre and the named below were selected by City staff:

  • Frosty the Snow Plow – St. Andrew’s Elementary
  • Snow Buster – St. Andrew’s Elementary
  • Blizzard Bishop – Abraham Elementary & Mary Queen of Peace
  • Plowmageddon – Ecole des Grands-Vents
  • Ice Ice Baby – Mary Queen of Peace
  • Darth Blader – Hazelwood
  • Heave Away – Hazelwood
  • Aquti (Inuit for snow on the ground) – Hazelwood
  • Lightning McClean – Southlands
  • Scoop Dog – Southlands
  • This was an information note, so Council didn’t vote on it.

“Next steps, staff will connect with schools and Public Works to coordinate a visit to each school. And this will be an opportunity for the school with the students and the class as well to meet the plow operators,” said Cllr Jill Bruce.

Downtown Pedestrian Mall and Quidi Vidi Sync Up

And Quidi Vidi is back before Council.

Council voted its approval for the Quidi Vidi Pedestrian Zone for 2023 – 2025 to coincide with the Downtown Pedestrian Mall for the next three years.

It will operate from June 23 to September 3.

“Barrow’s Road and Stone’s Road will be closed on the weekends from noon to 10 p.m from Friday to Sunday. And the access will be maintained for local traffic,” said Cllr Maggie Burton.

“Residents of Mapleview Place, Barrows, and Stones will be maintained access and it will be granted for artisan studio vendors and deliveries as well. For footprint businesses down there who use the area to do work. It’s also for the slipway for recreational fishing.”

“Additional temporary accessible parking spots will be added in the area to help provide a more welcoming environment for all ages and abilities.”

The Go Round

Cllr Carl Ridgeley encouraged people to come out tomorrow night’s championship hockey match between high school teams St Kevin’s Mavericks versus Roncalli Cardinals.

Cllr Korab gave a “hats off” to Kids Eat Smart which just hosted its gala, which he attended.

He also said that due to a subcontractor being unable to locate enough steel, construction on the new Mews Centre is being pushed back and the expected completion date is now Spring 2024. In the meantime, the current and aging Mews Centre will stay open until its replacement is open.

Cllr Ravencroft said there will be a drop-in information session on March 23 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Visitor Information Centre at 348 Water Street regarding the Water Street infrastructure project.

The construction is expected to start during the first week of April and is anticipated to be wrapped before July 1.

Cllr Hickman said he just got back from the Canada Games in PEI and said it went off without a hitch. There was also a flag passing ceremony, where Mayor Breen took the flag without issue. He added our athletes performed well, including a number of them who medaled.

Cllr Burton said that funding for applications for Heritage Maintenance and Conservation Grants are now open until May 1. Heritage Maintenance Grant can cover up to $1000 and the Heritage Conservation Grant can cover up to $5,000.

And finally, Deputy Mayor O’Leary noted that this Wednesday, March 8, is International Women’s Day, which she called a great opportunity to celebrate women’s accomplishments and gender equity in our community.

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