Notes From the Rafters: Pandora’s Big Yellow Box

Get your most outraged social media warrior face on: you have TWO WEEKS to ALL CAPS your way into Council inboxes to explain why you are pro or con the BYB.

Well. I skipped writing about the previous meeting but sadly did not get away with ignoring the spectre of the Big Yellow Box (BYB) atop Atlantic Place Garage that was approved. It is back and still relevant council news since Deputy Mayor O’Leary tabled a citizens’ petition with over 5 thousand signatures all asking that council rescind their 6 to 5 approval of pretty much everything (except a few details and the air rights to overhang Clift’s-Bairds’ Cove) for the proposed Park Hotel development. 

O’Leary tabled the petition and gave notice she would indeed move that the vote be rescinded. I.E. she is asking the council to un-vote for the BYB. Two weeks’ notice is required on any motion to rescind a council decision. SO… get your most outraged social media warrior face on, because you have all got TWO WEEKS to ALL CAPS your way into their inboxes to explain why you are pro or con the BYB before they re-vote along exactly the same lines as before.

Watching this play out, I’m not sure who you would even be trying to sway. 

Cllr Lane had admitted to being a bit torn before voting with the “rejects.” If you have a strong argument either way, he may be the weakest link through which to thrust it. The other 4 “reject” votes were solid. 

But if you wanted to sway a “Yes2Box”? No way you are moving Cllr Collins to even look at his email so that’s out. He is still the only councillor who does not have a video feed on the council meetings. Stapleton is a mystery wrapped in an enigma but she is never a surprise so no joy there. 

Hickman and Hanlon both have such a hard hate on for the aesthetics of the current Atlantic Place Garage they would say yes to anything that altered it in any way. I believe they have both used the “lipstick on a pig line” for the solution they are supporting, which is hilarious every time since that phrase does NOT actually imply “there! pig = fixed.”

Korab is really embracing his suburban mores these days and unless his ward inundates him with emails he won’t budge. I am making some assumptions here, but how many of those signatures were from Ward-Korab? Still. He has sounded more constituent-driven than ideological on this (and most) issue(s). So maybe he is a weak link on the other side?

Since Mayor Dan’s big message after the original vote wasn’t “It is fantastic! Yay” but more “It is done and Christ on a spoon can we all stop consulting the public on this yet?” So I cannot see him being swayed to rescind a vote by a group that is literally named “St John’s Citizens for Atlantic Place Consultation.”  

The last thing I will say on this, until the vote, is: yellow hasn’t been the Pantone Color of the Year since 2009 and even then it was “mimosa” not “Full-Frontal-Caution.” At least the design is not as barf as the ‘90s-fast-food-interior-version-of-a-JC-Roy-inspired-plaster-Christmas-village that is the St John’s Convention Centre. 

Sheds and Deck Beers

—Buddy on Shoal Bay Road is getting some Crown Land for parking heavy machinery

—Village Mall is getting a Mr Billiards. If they call it Table-Stick-Tennis maybe we can play it together.

—Buddy on Kilkenny St is putting up a newer, better, bigger shed in the buffer flood zone, but not in the flood zone itself.

—City approved one step in granting crown land in Quidi Vidi for a new wharf all along the waterfront section of the brewery property. Can this mean the much anticipated expansion of outdoor and deck space at the QV brewery will come to pass? I just crossed my fingers so hard it counts as yoga.

—Building permits are way down compared to this time 2019, but building zen gardens in your backyard with some rocks you “picked up” out around Southlands is way up. PS: old rims make nice modern planters and you don’t even have to move them from where they’ve been sitting for two years on the back deck.

What We Spend and Who We Pay

  • Granular and Rock Cover Materials” [name-of-my-super specific-karaoke-bar] at Robinhood Bay for ~$477k to Clarke’s trucking
  • City is buying out their lease on a loader at Robinhood Bay, therefore saving a few hundred thousand dollars over buying one new. Cllr Lane says, “good savings.” Mayor Breen says, “good comment.”
  • Guide Rail Repair for ~$101k to Farrell’s Excavating
  • Concrete Sidewalk Repair for ~$904k to Infinity Construction Ltd, so, first, whoa that is a lot of money for sidewalks that aren’t cleared half the year. Can we get our money back from the city pro-rated for the percentage of the year the new sidewalks are not passable? Second, all these companies are just some dude’s name until…. “Infinity Construction” which I assume some dude allowed my 7 year-old to name after a trip to Downtown Comics.
  • Storm Sewers on Kenmount Rd for ~$4.6million to Weir’s Construction. OK, never mind, I guess 1 million for sidewalks all over the city wasn’t that much.
  • Supply and Distribution of Work Coveralls for ~$76.9k to Professional Uniforms and Mats. I would maybe be so bold as to suggest that next time they check on etsy first? I just ordered a beautiful set of deadstock vintage cinch-waisted air force coveralls for less than $50.
  • Development of a SCADA Standard (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) for Waste and Wastewater Facilities at ~$250k to CH2M Hill—which, according to the Public Procurement Act, is the only contractor council is allowed to use for this.
  • The city will be spending more to connect Hebron Way to Major’s Path than originally anticipated as the project has grown. 

Council Competencies Revealed through Tender(ness)

The biggest tender was for “Streets Rehab” for ~$7.1 million to Pyramid Construction (roughly $1.4 million of which is for grind and patch). This one generated some discussion and some good granular municipal inner-workings information.

Cllr Froude asked to defer awarding this tender until they take a closer look at all the items in the Capital Budget, so that council could “get a deeper prioritization of projects first.” 

Cllr Korab asked what effect a deferral would have on the tender. 

Staffer Sinyard said it would set the process back about a month which could affect what can be accomplished in a year given the weather window. 

More interesting is that Sinyard added that it may be legally sketchy to make only small changes to the tender and then re-open it. If that happened, the companies bidding to get the work could have already seen what everyone bid in the first round.

Since this was making deferral look less attractive, Cllr Froude checked if it was a “unit price” contract. Meaning, would be able to pare down the work once they accepted the tender. Sinyard said it was a “unit price” tender and there was some flexibility but after a certain point the contractor could call shenanigans if it looked less and less like what they originally bid on. 

The deferral was defeated 6-5 and the tender awarded but this was a great conversation for two reasons. 1: we got to see how some of the details of the rules of the city tendering process work. 2: It illustrates just how interested the current council itself is in the details of this process and the consequences of those details. They (or some of them) are asking questions. Good questions. The kind of questions you ask when your homework is complete and you even read the footnotes and your book report is not just a diorama but also a shadow puppet theatre and you look the teacher in the eyes with full conviction and say “dim the lights, Mr Pressman” as the score to Les Miserable rises from your boom box. We finally elected a decent portion of nerds.

Yay, nerds! If you read all of my recap of the entire tender list and that whole last section then you may very well be one! If you followed the link I embedded in the first item on the tender list AND watched the whole video… you are either a nerd from nerdsville, super into the technical side of krautrock, or asleep. Good night. Sleep tight.

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