First off, Happy Municipal Awareness Week! Mayor Danny Breen made the proclamation at the start of the regular council meeting. He took the opportunity to recognize the work that City staff, across all departments, does throughout the year.

Cllrs Ron Ellsworth, Debbie Hanlon, Ophelia Ravencroft and Jamie Korab were absent from today’s meeting.

Commissionaires NL secured a bid valued at $167,344.09 per year (HST included) to provide security for the downtown Pedestrian Mall. The contract is for one year, with the option of two one-year extensions.

The other bids were Spectrum Investigation & Security (1998) Limited ($171,646.65), Neptune Security Services Inc. ($187,445.40) and Garda Canada Security Corporation ($199,312.25).

Landlord Survey Coming

St. John’s City Council announced the landlord survey and upcoming landlord information session.

“Because of the many changes to the rental landscape, as well as to our local community sector and the broader economy, we’re taking the opportunity to engage with landlords to understand the impacts of these changes on the rental properties market,” said Cllr Sandy Hickman.

You can complete the survey here, which opened today and closes June 3.

There will be an information session at the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and Homelessness Network’s Learning Centre at 77 Charter Avenue, on May 25 from 1:30 – 3:30 pm. Participants can either attend in-person or virtually, said Cllr Hickman.

From that, they’ll put together a What We Heard report.

King’s Bridge Road Back Before Council

Council is moving forward with steps in the amendment process for St. John’s Municipal Plan Amendment and St. John’s Development Regulations Amendment so that 19 King’s Bridge Road can be put to use as offices and other commercial uses.

Included in the agenda were concerns submitted to the City. One person said the area should be kept more residential because of the other buildings in the area, like the Dominion and courts.

They added: “The final point I would like to share is that there appears to be a belief that since we already have mixed neighbourhood zoning, what is just one more rezoning. The rezoning cycle does not stop and at some point, after so much rezoning from neighbourhood, no one cares because there is so little left of the residential zoning to preserve.”

“I am aware these are challenging and important decisions, but now is the time to protect this neighbourhood while there is enough residential properties left to protect,” the author concluded.

Which is a bit odd to me, as 19 King’s Bridge isn’t a home. It’s always been a place of business, even when the Anglican Church owned it.

Another irate person wrote in: “Over the past decades, there seems to be a concentrated effort by St. John’s City Councils to destroy what remains of historic properties in the downtown… There is no doubt that we are losing, overtime, many of the historical and beautiful homes (and green spaces) that are/were a large component of the important flavour of St. Johns.”

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary noted the number of voices raised in opposition to the rezoning and she said she’d like to get some clarification on the potential impacts to the area.

Chief Municipal Planner Ken O’Brien explained there wouldn’t be much of a change. The property was used for a long time by the Anglican Church as both office space and a retail store.

“So in some respects it won’t be a lot of difference. The proposal is for a yoga studio and for possible office space, to be determined down the road,” he said.

19 King’s Bridge Road. (Source: City Agenda, 9 May 2022.)

Quarry Rocks On

Council then voted to adopt a regulation amendment to rezone a portion of land near Black Mountain Pond, Incinerator Road from the Rural Zone to the Mineral Working Zone.

Newcrete Investments Limited Partnership is looking to rezone a portion of the land near Black Mountain Pond, off Incinerator Road, to accommodate a quarry.

Council agreed to consider the request at the April 4 meeting.

“The applicants have made a quarry permit application to the provincial government. But to allow the provincial quarry permit application process to proceed, the area needs to be municipally zoned to Mineral Working,” said Cllr Froude.

The amendment and its details were advertised extensively and shared widely, he added. Some of the concerns raised were about the environment. He suggested the best place for those concerns to be heard would be at the environmental assessment process, which is required for this project.

“Given that a provincial environmental assessment will be required prior to development, as well as any other required studies for the development of a quarry, it is recommended by staff to accept the staff report in lieu of a land use report,” said Cllr Froude. “The City will require the applicable studies prior to issuing development approval.”

Deputy Mayor O’Leary said she’d like to defer the motion in order to have more dialogue with the Town of Conception Bay South, who have raised environmental concerns as well as the number of quarries popping up.

However, no one seconded the motion to defer, so Mayor Breen said it was back to discussion about the motion at hand.

Cllr Sandy Hickman said that while he heard what O’Leary was saying, he said those issues will be covered by the province and it will give CBS the time to voice its concerns to the City and in the provincial process.

He also spoke up in favour of the quarry, explaining it’s in an area that’s tucked away and on a road with several other quarries, keeping it from going somewhere else.

Mayor Breen also announced he’d be supportive of the motion, noting that environmental concerns will be examined in the provincial and environmental assessment process.

The motion passed six to one, with Deputy Mayor O’Leary voting against it.

Quarry site near Incinerator Road. (Source: City Agenda, 9 May 2022.)

The Go Round

Deputy Mayor O’Leary started off by saying it was nice to see the mayor sitting in his usual chair, a reference to his absence last week.

She said she and Cllrs Burton and Froude attended the Stewardship Association and Municipalities annual general meeting that the City hosted, which brought together a lot of people from across the province on the issues of environmental stewardship. Currently the City only has one stewardship agreement over the Lundrigan Marsh but she said there could be more in the future.

For the next few days, City Hall’s Wyatt Hall will be hosting One Thousand Words: A Photo Journey. It’s a photo exhibit where all the artists are survivors of sexual violence. It’s organized by the Journey Project, she said.

On Deputy Mayor O’Leary final note, she brought up the issue of wastewater management and the water management facility. She also raised the issue of landscaping in the area and that she still hears from people about how they can address the gouging out of the Southside Hills.

“I think this is an issue that really should go hand-in-hand with the discussion, as well. It’s a visual aesthetic but it is one that’s important, certainly for our visitors.”

Cllr Maggie Burton said nominations for the 2022 Indigenous Advocate Award are open until June 5.

Cllr Hickman said construction for the pump track at Quidi Vidi Park is starting this week and will wrap up in mid-July. People will still be able to access the trails, dog park and playground during this period.

Cllr Jill Bruce said last weekend they held a cleanup at Clovelly and there are two more planned for this weekend. On the 14th there will be one at Airport Heights and on the 15th it will start at the neighbourhood store parking lot.

Cllr Froude had good news about the Bus Pass program: the CIty has an agreement with Metrobus and the provincial government to continue the bus pass program for recipients of income assistance.

“As part of that, we’re pleased to share that the province committed the full $2.1 Million required for the implementation of that program,” he said. “And that we are expanding the program to include seniors who receive GIS, the guaranteed income supplement and for those youth who are in care and connected to provincial youth programs.”

(This wasn’t mentioned in his comments, but when the 2022 provincial budget dropped last month, Furey’s Liberals expanded the bus pass program but expected the City to do it on less money after cutting the budget.)

The final word went to Cllr Carl Ridgeley, who echoed Cllr Bruce’s comments on cleanup initiatives. He said there will be one this Saturday and participants can show up at the Southlands Community Centre.

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Elizabeth Whitten is a St. John's-based journalist and The Independent's St. John's municipal politics reporter. She's previously worked for allNewfoundlandLabrador and Downhome Magazine, and her work has been published by CBC, The Overcast, and the Toronto Star. She's currently writing a book about how Dr. Cluny Macpherson invented the gas mask in World War One.