What Odds at City Hall: 7 March 2022

The City adopts a new IT policy, Sharpe’s General Store is getting a makeover, and Council signs off on some summer travel to Saskatchewan.

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No Kidding About Kidneys

Mayor Danny Breen proclaimed March as Kidney Health Month and March 10 as World Kidney Day

“Whereas each day 1 in ten Canadians learn that their kidneys have failed, and this number is on the rise, 45% of new kidney patients are under age 65. Their survival will depend on dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant,” he said.

“In 2021 kidney disease was the 10th leading cause of death in Canada. There are currently 645 people in Newfoundland and Labrador receiving dialysis treatments three or more times a week. There are 508 people living with functioning kidney transplants in this province, 12 people received a kidney transplant in 2021 and 44 more are on the waitlist. Short term financial assistance requests increased significantly in 2021 with 90 patients receiving close to $15,000.”

He also urged all citizens to become aware of their kidney health and learn about the role their kidneys play in the body and the kidney disease warning signs to look for, as well as the awareness of the importance of the organ donation registry.

He was joined by Jackie Dolomont, Development Coordinator for the Kidney Foundation of Canada Atlantic Branch, Newfoundland and Labrador.

All members—save Cllr Debbie Hanlon—were present at Monday’s meeting.

A Short Story about Heavy Equipment Storage

Newco Metal & Auto Recycling Ltd. at 49 Robin Hood Bay Road has gotten permission for a vehicle storage yard and heavy equipment storage.

“The yard has an area of 1.796 hectares and a portion will be fenced. The yard will accommodate a temporary storage of vehicles, as well as heavy equipment storage, including company owned tractor trailers and other equipment,” said Cllr Jamie Korab.

“No work or scrapping of vehicles will be done on site. There is no public access to the yard. The yard operates Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, with occasional offloading of vehicles outside of these set hours. The proposed application site is zoned Industrial Commercial.”

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary had a question regarding its location and its potential impact on Lundrigan’s Marsh, especially considering the agreement the City has with the Stewardship Association of Municipalities.

Deputy City Manager of Planning, Engineering & Regulatory Services Jason Sinyard said there is no concern from staff on its impact on Lundrigan’s Marsh.

Cllr Korab also wanted to know to what extent the property will be fenced off, and Mr. Sinyard said he’d have to look into it.

49 Robin Hood Bay Road. (Source: City Agenda, 7 March 2022.)

Making IT Work

Council then moved to approve a new information technology policy and rescinded the other policies.

So while the City does have a few IT related policies, it does not have a comprehensive policy that covers all IT used by the City, explained Cllr Ron Ellsworth. This policy will apply to employees, as well as members of council and other authorized individuals who use City IT resources.

Then they approved membership and extended appointments for the Affordable Housing Working Group.

Cllr Ophelia Ravencroft said the working group “is responsible to provide advice to Council regarding housing system related policies, directives, and strategies as well as implementation of our 10- year Affordable Housing Strategy. We required replacements for two positions, one is representative for provincial government and the other representing First Light after the death of Andrew Harvey.”

His role will be filled by Sonya Clark-Casey, which ends in May of 2022. The provincial government put forward Colin Hipditch.

As well, Doug Pawson from End Homelessness St. John’s and Grayson Kelly from Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation will have their stays extended for another two years.

Planning a Future for Heritage

Moving along, Council signed off on the St. John’s Heritage Plan Terms of Reference.

“This Heritage Plan will allow us to manage, maintain and protect our heritage resources and will set goals and objectives to achieve what we want over the next 10 years,” said Cllr Maggie Burton.

The timeline for this plan is about a year, so it will come out next spring or summer, she said. There will also be a draft plan before then.

Planning will be done internally but public consultation will be an important part of creating the plan, Burton said. So there will be an Engage page for this and at least two stakeholders meetings, and small stakeholder meetings will be held to discuss specific topics that may come up. There will also be meetings like with the Built Heritage Experts Panel, among others.

Cllr Ron Ellsworth said he thought this is a great document and moving forward with the plan will make “good sense for the City. We can all understand there are going to be financial implications here that we’re going to have to address.”

He added one of his frustrations with trying to protect the heritage area is the burden put on the property owners by the City—as well as provincially and federally—while not providing resources to help the owners.

He said when this comes back to Council there will be budgetary implications as well, and if Council is serious about protecting heritage “then we’re going to have to start putting our money where our mouth is and support the cause.”

Looking Sharpe

Sharpe’s General Store and Gas Station is looking to get some work done at its Thorburn Road location.

The Town of Portugal Cove – St. Phillip’s sent this application to St. John’s.

Council gave its seal of approval for the upgrades to the existing commercial use at 901-909 Thorburn Road to allow paving of the existing gravel area of the parking lot, new concrete walkway along the store front, removal of grass at the rear that will be covered with stone, installation of two retaining walls, and extension of the fencing along the boundary.

Mayor Breen said these upgrades don’t contribute to an increase in the commercial intensity of the business. “It’s really to make the property work better for its clientele and improve the property.”

Local wildlife enjoying an outing to Sharpe’s General Store and Gas Station. (Photo via Facebook.)

Fresh Faces on the Seniors Advisory Committee

Some new faces are coming to the Seniors Advisory Committee after Council gave the okay to fill some vacancies. There are three categories of members: public, youth, and organization.

Since Cllr Hanlon was not present, Deputy Mayor O’Leary said she’d make the announcement on her behalf.

The new people are:

Evan Simpson – Public Member

Anne Marie Anonsen – Public Member

Bill Dilny – Public Member

Greg Noseworthy – Youth Representative

Julia Batten – Organization Member – Seniors NL

Joseph Salas – Organization Member – Coalition of Retired Persons – NL

Summer Travel Plans for Council

Council also approved the travel costs for Mayor Breen and Cllrs Burton, Froude, and Hanlon to attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Annual General Conference taking place from June 2 – 5 in Regina, Saskatchewan. 

Mayor Breen explained that typically, the policy is that the mayor and two councillors travel to attend but last year there wasn’t a conference. There were two councillors approved for last year and this year Cllr Hanlon asked to go as well, which is why there’s been a variance in the policy.

Cllr Ian Froude said there’s a lot of value to attend and they don’t take the expenditure lightly.

However, there was no mention in the meeting or on the agenda for how much this will cost.

After three weeks, 379 Bay Bulls Road is back on the agenda.

The expropriation of 379 Bay Bulls Road for the Goulds servicing Phase 2 – Sanitary Trunk Sewer project and temporary working easement for 379 Bay Bulls Road also was okayed.

For a bit of background found in the agenda, the City’s Legal Department has been in negotiations with the purported owners of 379 Bay Bulls Road. While the registered owners are both deceased, the property allegedly divided between their two sons, though a title search shows that hasn’t been done yet. The purchase price for the property is $1 per square foot—and because the property is located within the floodplain where development potential is limited—the compensation is $1,496.18. However, the so-called owners don’t really like this price and the Legal Department is waiting on a counter-offer.

The Go Round

Deputy Mayor O’Leary had a few things she wanted to bring to the forefront. The first was that Sobey’s is leading a national Plastic Waste Challenge to find a commercially sustainable packaging solution for things like meat and seafood. Applications are now open, and close in May. There is also a $25,000 prize for the winner.

She and the Deputy City Manager (Finance) recently met with a number of local iron workers over the lack of local job opportunities. While she said the City’s hands are tied due to certain legislations, like the provincial Public Procurement Act, it’s important to support local as best they can.

Finally, she reminded everyone that tomorrow is International Women’s Day and she wanted us to celebrate the advancements women have made but also know there’s still a way to go for gender equality.

Cllr Burton said there’s funding available for Heritage Maintenance and Conservation grants and are open until May 1. She said since 2016 Council has given out $250,000 in grant funding to 95 successful applicants; “that’s pretty good.”

There are two types of grants available, Heritage Maintenance Grant and the Heritage Conservation Grant.

Cllr Sandy Hickman said that as lead on public works he wanted to highlight the fact they had a great presentation recently from Scotia Recycling. As well, there’s a session at the Committee of the Whole on clear bags. Council has also been invited by MMSB to attend another event on Friday morning.

Cllr Jill Bruce said she’s had people reach out to her about backyard composting and said  there’s a partnership with the City, MMSB and Memorial’s Botanical Garden. You can head to the Botanical Garden website or Curb It St. John’s for more information about the online sessions.

Cllr Ravencroft brought our attention to the fact that March 3 was International Sex Worker Rights Day, adding it’s important to consider the role sex workers play in our community and that they’re valued members.

She also wanted to echo the deputy mayor’s comments about International Women’s Day and asked people to consider the role we all play in the advancement of gender equality.

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