What Odds at City Hall: 6 September 2022

Denis Lawlor Park gets public washrooms, some working groups get new members, ice-skating is coming to Bowring Park. And the Pride Parade is back!
St. John's City Hall on New Gower Street.
St. John’s City Hall. Photo by Elizabeth Whitten.

And we’re back to our regularly scheduled weekly City Hall meetings, as the biweekly summer schedule has ended. This meeting was held on Tuesday because yesterday was Labour Day but meetings will be back on Monday next week.

All the councillors were present at today’s meeting.

Before starting, Mayor Danny Breen asked for a moment of silence for the victims of the tragedy in Saskatchewan over the weekend.

Then there was a presentation of the Stewardship Association of Municipalities’ scholarship winner to Karen Richards, a Ph.D. student at Memorial University. Mayor Breen presented her with a $1000 cheque.

Karen Richards, a Ph.D. candidate from Memorial University receives a scholarship from the Stewardship Association of Municipalities. Screencap from: City Council Meeting live stream.

September was also proclaimed Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by Mayor Breen.

First up on the agenda, Council approved parking relief for four parking spaces to Denis Lawlor Park at 108 McNiven Place to allow the construction of a public washroom building.

Denis Lawlor Park (108 McNiven Place). (Source: City Agenda, 6 September 2022).

It’s Demo Time

Council then signed off on the demolition and rebuilding of a smaller dwelling at 661- 665 Thorburn Road – in a watershed – with some conditions attached.

Firstly, the floor area of the proposed new replacement dwelling will not be allowed to expand more than 50 percent of the existing dwelling. Secondly, the development must also meet all requirements of the Department of Planning, Engineering and Regulatory Services. Finally, the area clear cut at the rear of the property must be reinstated before any building permits are issued, said Cllr Jamie Korab.

Cllr Ron Ellsworth raised the issue of work in the watershed areas and asked what the situation was with the building set to be demolished.

Deputy City Manager of Planning, Engineering andRegulatory Services Jason Sinyard said to the best of his knowledge it is occupied.

With that, Cllr Ellsworth said he’d reluctantly support the motion.

661- 665 Thorburn Road. (Source: City Agenda, 6 September 2022).

Pride Parade Marches On

St. John’s Pride Parade is taking place on September 25 and Council approved the revised date and the road closures.

The event had initially been scheduled for July 24 but was postponed due to a heatwave. It’ll now take place on September 25 2pm-4pm and will follow the previously approved route from City Hall to Bannerman Park, said Cllr Debbie Hanlon.

Road closures will start as 12pm:

  • New Gower Street Eastbound at Waldegrave Street
  • New Gower Street Westbound from City Hall to Carter’s Hill to Duckworth from Bates Hill to New Gower Street
  • Adelaide at George Street

Parade Route starting at 2pm:

  • New Gower Street, Duckworth Street, Cavendish Square, Military Road, Bannerman Road, ending at Bannerman Park
  • There will be a rolling closure at these streets.

Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft said “the cruelest of irony. You take a couple of weeks off for medical issues and you come back, they stuck the Pride Parade on a day you’re out of town. I’m on a layover in glamorous Moncton, New Brunswick exactly the time the parade is taking place.”

“But I’m delighted to see that it’s finally moving forward after several months waiting and several years of waiting before that.”

Proposed road closure for the Pride Parade. (Source: City Agenda, 6 September 2022).

Tender Talks

Council awarded Fer-Pal Construction Ltd. ($9,178,983.75 HST included) to complete the 2022 CIPP Watermain Lining project. The work included the rehabilitation of approximately 4900m of existing watermains in the Churchill Square/Pine Bud Avenue area of the City, and also includes new valves and hydrants.

It was the sole bidder.

A substantial amount of the work has to be completed by September 30, 2023.

Crown Contracting Inc. – the sole bidder – was awarded a $281,175 (HST included) contract for the annual program to help maintain an acceptable asphalt serviceability level.

A substantial completion of the work is required on November 30.

Harvey & Company Ltd. – with a bid of $211,899.26 (HST not included) – won the contract to supply and deliver international truck parts for the City’s fleet to be used on an as required basis.

It was the sole bidder and the contract is for one year with the possibility of two, one-year extension

Ice Skating Coming to Bowring Park

Mills & Wright Landscape Architecture – for $617,667.78 – will be taking on the contract to complete conceptual and detailed design for a new ice-skating surface in Bowring Park.

The contract is for 12 months.

“That Council award Professional Consulting Services as submitted by Mills & Wright Landscape Architecture proposal in response to our Negotiable Request for Proposal call,” said Cllr Karl Ridgeley.

“At this time, Phases 1 to 3 ($296,932.88) will be completed, and Phases 4-7 will be contingent on fundraising efforts by the Bowring Park Foundation for the construction phase of the project. At this point in time, there is no set date for construction commencement. Funding for Phases 1-3 is covered by the approved COOR 2022 budget.”

Cllr Ellsworth, as a member of the Bowring Park Foundation, said this is one of the projects the foundation identified as a priority a couple of years ago. This will be done in conjunction between the City and the foundation.

Cllr Ian Froude said he thinks this is a great project but had a question for staff about how expensive it is.

Mr. Sinyard said it would be expensive if it was just for the design but it’s the dollar amount for the entire seven phases of the project. In addition, at this meeting they’re awarding the funding for the first three phases of the project, which was in the budget that was approved by Council earlier this year.

Deputy mayor Sheilagh O’Leary also had a question about when the City does these kinds of tenders if they look back at previous work and do comparables?

Mr. Sinyard said they do take into account past projects as they advance future projects.

Build It And They Will Come

Now that Council has granted Denis Lawlor the space for public washrooms, they need to actually build them!

“A recently added hard surface court mostly intended for basketball in Denis Lawlor Park has been a huge success and is drawing more public to the area,” said Cll Jill Bruce.

“Council has requested the addition of public washrooms for those using the court and as well as the other amenities in the park.”

J & T Construction Limited, for $249,037.56 (HST included) has been awarded the contract to add public washrooms and other amenities. A good chunk of the work has to be done four months from being awarded the contract.

Other bids were from Newfoundland and Labrador Mobile Shelters Limited (Disqualified), Can-Am Platforms & Construction Ltd. ($264,473.55) and Coastal Building Products & Services Ltd ($296,228.50).

Cllr Karl Ridgeley presented City staff with a petition signed by more than 500 residents of Shea Heights for some type of action on the intersection at Blackhead Road and Jordan Place.

The information he passed along also included speed data collected over the last four months and some accident data from the RNC.

Council Members Added

The Council then appointed Liam O’Neill and Samuel Bishop to the Youth Engagement Working Group.

Cllr Maggie Burton said both these individuals will be great additions to the group and they have already done great work in the community, so she was happy to second this.

Council also appointed two new members to the Arts & Culture Advisory Committee: Agnès Mame to fill the vacancy representing Cultural, Indigenous and Intangible Cultural Heritage organization.

The second new member is Amanda House, to fill a vacancy representing a business-based public member representative with a strong interest in arts, culture, and intangible cultural heritage.

Pedway Approved

Council voted to adopt Envision St. John’s Development Regulations Amendment 15, 2022, that will add “pedway” to various zones.

For some background, this came up in July 12’s council meeting when the City got an application from numbered company 55732 NL Inc. – aka KMK Capital Inc. –  to develop a pedway – an enclosed pedestrian way – between an existing building located at 110 Hebron Way and a proposed new building at 15 Verafin Way.

110 Hebron Way and 15 Verafin Way. (Source: City Agenda, 6 September 2022)

Council also voted to adopt Envision St. John’s Development Regulations Amendment Number 16, 2022, to allow consideration for driveways and hard landscaping wider than 3.6 metres in the Residential Reduced Lot Zone, subject to a snow storage plan.

It was last discussed in a regular meeting back on July 25, when Council voted to consider the amendment and advertise it for public review and comment. According to the agenda, the City didn’t receive any comments.

So the next step will be to send the documents to the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs for registration. As a Municipal Plan amendment isn’t needed, a commissioner’s public hearing isn’t required.

Road Closures Coming

The Gower Street Block Party is organized by the four churches in the area and they’re planning an event to coincide with the Battle of Britain Parade on September 18 (with a rain date of September 24). Gower Street, from Cathedral Street to Church Hill will be closed from 10:00am – 2:00pm.

Proposed Road Closure for CIBC Run for the Cure. (Source: City Agenda, 6 September 2022).

CIBC Run for the Cure is scheduled for October 2.

The road  closures will be from 9:30am – 11:30am for the following:

  • The Boulevard
  • Forest Road
  • Empire Avenue East – from Forest Road to Kings Bridge Road 
  • Kings Bridge Road to The Boulevard

The road closures will be implemented by the RNC.

Aberdeen Avenue Apartments Inch Closer

Next up is 130 Aberdeen Avenue, where a developer wants to erect a mix of single detached dwellings, semi-detached dwellings, and townhouses in the R3 Zone. The A2 Zone will have five four-storey apartment buildings. To do this the developer is asking to rezone the land, which is Commercial Regional Zone to the Apartment 2 and Residential 3 Zones. A Municipal Plan amendment is also required.

Council has approved the resolutions for Envision St. John’s Municipal Plan Amendment Number 2, 2022 and Envision St. John’s Development Regulations Number 3, 2022 regarding land at 130 Aberdeen Avenue.

It will also require that a detailed assessment of the acoustic insulation requirements be completed at the development approval stage, and appropriate acoustic insulation features be incorporated into the buildings to mitigate noise impacts from aircraft.

They will also ask the developer to inform perspective buyers, in writing, of the noise impacts associated with aircraft activity which may cause annoyance.

130 Aberdeen Avenue. (Source: City Agenda, 6 September 2022).

And we have the list for the 2022 sidewalk infill program!

It includes: 

  • Mundy Pond Road – South side – St. Teresa’s Elementary School to Mews Centre gravel parking lot
  • Empire Avenue – South side – Cordage Place to Ropewalk Lane
  • Ridge Road – South side – CNA Entrance to Mount Scio Road
  • Bay Bulls Road – North side – Columbus Drive to Mackey Place (connection at an existing trail) – Provisional if funding permits.

This program is funded under the 2022 Capital Out of Revenue Program and the work will go to tender sometime this month for work to start in October.

Council signed off on eight individuals to sit on the Anti-Racism Working Group along with the Organizational Representatives: Ayse Sule Akinturk, Bahar Haghighat, Michelle Debnath-Canning, Margarita Palmera, Tendai Mudunge, Rohit Madan, Qiao Lu, and Hubert Yaw Antwi-Adjei.

“Two of the organizations have expressed concerns regarding the Terms of Reference, including the need to more clearly define the decision making process,” said Cllr Hanlon.

“The ARWG Chair and staff feel that the organizational and individual representatives recommended to sit on the ARWG are in the best position possible to review the current Terms of Reference and make recommendations to us Council regarding any necessary changes for the success of the ARWG.”

The Go Round

Deputy mayor O’Leary congratulated returning students and teachers.

She also had a question about the street and sidewalk works and wanted to know if there’s any considerations for school zones.

Mr. Sinyard said consideration is generally given when construction is planned but unfortunately schedules don’t always align.

Deputy mayor O’Leary also noted there’s been chatter online over the issue of affordable housing, the vacant properties in the City, and the  expropriation of these empty places formuch-needed use.

Senior solicitor Cheryl Mullett explained the parameters of expropriation: “The process of expropriating land is governed by legislation. It is a statutory process. So the role of the legal department would be in consultation with other departments that would have earmarked potential sites they wanted to expropriate. We would then look at those sites on a site specific basis and determine whether or not the parameters of the act had been met. And the advice about the process going forward.”

Cllr Burton wanted to remind people of an advisory sent out on September 1 and caution people to slow down in school zone areas.

Deputy mayor O’Leary then asked if that topic could be sent to the Affordable Housing Working Group for possible discussion.

Cllr Hickman opened with a tune, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” But he wanted to talk about the pedestrian mall that had just ended. He believed this year’s event was better than last year, in part because of the events that had been held in the area. The challenge now would be to enhance it for summer 2023. He also dared to say it could be longer next year.

Cllr Hanlon gave a welcome to university and post-secondary students but asked people to keep an eye out as these newcomers are getting used to their new areas.

She said fall registration is open for seniors’ events and outings and are filling up. As well, Seniors’ Week is happening October 3-7.

Cllr Bruce wanted to remind drivers not to use the bike lanes, as they are not passing lanes.

Cllr Ravencroft also congratulated the kids going back to school this week.

First off, she wanted to recognize how we’ve all been horrified by the assault reports coming from George Street in the last few weeks, citing the increased reports of drugs being slipped into people’s drinks.

“A multi-pronged approach is necessary to deal with this but I want to echo the comments that my dear friend Heather Elliott made in the Telegram quite recently in saying that at the end of the day, as much as anything is required dealing with this requires cultural change.”

Moreover, she said Council and other organizations have a part to play. She’s requested a meeting with the Downtown Business Association to discuss these concerns and is planning to request a meeting with the George Street Association.

“But we know that cultural change is necessary in order to stop these kinds of things. It was necessary a long time ago, I shouldn’t have to say it still is but here we are.” She added her heart goes out to those affected and that she’s a survivor of sexual violence and knows the severity.

She said on a personal level, it was good to be back to Council and that people might have noticed she was hard to reach the past month and she was out for health issues. She added she’s been upfront about her mental health issues and needed to step away from council in August. She hopes to be back up to speed soon. Moreover, she thanked the colleagues for having her back and adding that councillors are people too who have their own struggles.

Cllr Korab noted some private schools are back in class today and for people to be mindful of the school zones. He also wished everyone a happy school year.

Cllr Ridgeley echoed his fellow councillors comments on the issue around school zones, as well as the construction still ongoing. He said it’s important that people relax and that they will get to where they’re going.

And with that, Mayor Breen adjourned this week’s council meeting.

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