Notes From the Rafters: 19 October 2020

Reminder that if you want gossip, the absolute best place to look is at the Building Permits and Development Permits lists.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary was in the dog-armed, leather-backed mayoral throne today in Mayor Dan’s absence. It was a short agenda and a quick meeting. Though long enough for me to learn I may pronounce Beothuk very badly. I always said it like Mayor Dan [Bee-AH-thick] but the Deputy Mayor came on full of confidence with a solid BAY-o-tuck. I like it. (If you have forgotten, the council does a land acknowledgement to begin each meeting.)

All the councillors were there. The sound was lagging slightly from the video and I pretended I was watching a vintage dubbing of an old favourite foreign film. Ah, the cinema!

Development Committee Report

Change of occupancy at 16 Stavanger Drive is approved for a bakery. Council all agreed there is plenty of parking in that strip, though technically the parking required from the city’s parking matrix exceeds the actual lot by 3 spaces. This is the gazillionth reminder of why the city went through the Envision process to update development and parking standards. I go to that lot frequently (but I wont say which store… is it Natural Health? the dance studio? the Rogers warehouse? the framing shop? I’ll never tell! I’ll never ruin the air of mystery that hangs about me like a borrowed pashmina at a rainy wedding) and there is always plenty of parking. Even when Sun Sushi was open I never had trouble. Requiring 13 parking spaces for a small retail shop is… optimistic at best and bananas at worst. In Envision, three is the new 13.

1 Ozark Place. A new build in Southlands is looking to stand out from the crowd (not a trait I usually associate with Southlands). Council may approve up to 3 stories in the Residential Low Density (R1) zone, but will require a Land Use Assessment Report (LUAR) to study how the height could affect the neighbourhood. Once the LUAR is complete for this particular 3-story hopeful, the proposal will be advertised to the public before it comes back to council for a vote.

Cllr Korab asks if it is common to have 3 stories on a corner lot. Cllr Froude double checks with staff that whatever they decide it will apply only to this property. O’Leary emphasizes the point, “so [our decision] is site specific.”

Reminder that if you want gossip the absolute best place to look is at the Building Permits and Development Permits lists. You can see who is putting up fencing or a deck. You can see which defunct restaurants may soon see life again. It is the most energy efficient way to spy on all your neighbours at once. No one I like to keep tabs on is at anything this week but I don’t know who you stalk so check it out here.

Backline culvert replacement work was awarded to Dexter Construction Company Ltd for ~$177k. Cllr Collins says this is three culverts, one river.

Cllr Froude declared a Notice of Motion to give fair warning he will be asking council to adopt the new Election Finance by-law amendment. This would affect the 2021 general municipal election. More details on this next week. But I will note, Candidate Froude talked about election finance reform during his initial campaign. It is nice to see him keep his promise now that he is a councillor. (Ahem… Trudeau… *cough cough*.)

Cllr Korab tabled a petition with over 200 signatures from his constituents who want button-activated flashing lights for the crosswalk on Frecker Drive at the United Church. The petitioner made sure to try to limit the signatories to those who actually live in Cowan Heights.

The Go-Round

Cllr Collins: I have no idea what he was on about. If you can make it out on the video let me know. 

Cllr Korab: Broke the sad news that there will be no Pumpkin Walk in Bannerman Park but instead will be a virtual pumpkin carving contest so submit your photos online. It’s not just for kids!

Cllr Stapleton: Stop littering disposable masks.  

Cllr Hanlon: It is Small Business Week and Hanlon gives a nod to the multiple entrepreneurs right there on council—and the more than 4800 small businesses in the city.

Also the city has opened its Art Procurement Program for the first time since 2015. They have $20k with which to procure your art by November 6. Good art only, please. (My words, not hers.) Speaking of good art: Hanlon gives a shout out to Chris Brookes and his newest walking history/art audio creation, the Story Walk at Victoria Park. Hanlon says you can even hear Mayor Dan, among others, at that big creepy death-mask hatrack hoop thing (again: my words, not hers). Though in her words you can not only listen to Mayor Dan but “you can turn him off as well.” Nice friendly burn. Solid.

Cllr Lane, with the thick skin that only years on the bicycle task force in St. John’s can provide, dove into the (surprisingly? unsurprisingly? why am I still surprised?) gladiatorial world of urban trail upgrades. He wanted to clarify—presumably for those who are SUPER angry about details that are not yet set in asphalt—that although the feds gave the city a buttload of money to create a fully integrated multi-use and accessible Kelly’s Brook trail that would connect Columbus Ave to Kings Bridge Rd, the exact design details are yet to be drawn, much less paved. So if anyone is SUPER angry about the new widened concrete monstrosities destroying their opportunity for a meditative sense of awe and inevitably starting a war-that-no-one-wins with the Ents, the good news is that none of that exists yet, even as a blueprint. So get your engagement on and let’s see what we can put together. With accessibility at the forefront and a passion for the Rennies River in all its wild wonderfulness, maybe this will all work out.

Cllr Lane says he will do better at communicating where the process is now, what is still to be done, and how your passions can best be directed to help influence the final designs. He will be writing a letter to the Telegram. 

Cllr Burton is optimistic that the city’s Envision document will emerge from the Provincial labyrinth for public hearings before the end of the year. Burton also amplified the current RFP for the defunct West End Firehall on Lemarchant Road. The city is hoping for another Bannerman Brewery-style success. A downtown bookended by Brewpubs in old fire stations would be pretty adorbs. Burton does recognize there is “a lot of work to do” on the building with significant “structural, mechanical and electrical” upgrades needed. Not to mention the fire damage from two weeks ago. But still: bakers, ghostbusters, and brewers get at it!

Cllr Collins: Will we have a new councillor next week? How long before we gets a new councillor?
City Clerk: Two weeks after the election tomorrow.

Deputy Mayor O’Leary reminds everyone that you can still vote on Tuesday up to 8pm at the polling stations at either the Royal Legion in Pleasantville or the Knights of Columbus on St. Clare Ave. Bring an ID that shows you live in the ward.

Photo by Graham Kennedy.

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