Public weighs in on capital's future

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Management consultant Jane Helleur (left), of Jane Helleur and Associates, chats with Bruce and Cynthia Pardy of St. John's during a roundtable discussion at Wednesday night's City of St. John's Strategic Economic Roadmap meeting.

St. John’s’ economic roadmap  got plenty of direction from its residents at Wednesday night’s public consultation.

Ward 4 Coun. Debbie Hanlon chairs the committee that’s laying out the Strategic Economic Roadmap, and says she was disappointed with the turnout, but not the ideas.

“It was about engaging the people and we may not have gotten the quantity, but we certainly got the quality. They were interested,” she said of the 15 people who showed up to talk about where they want to see St. John’s in the next 10 years.

The fifth consultation — not including one with a number of officials from different municipalities — was focused on what residents of the city thought about the four main goals of the roadmap and how they would adapt them to suit their purposes.

The goals are:

•    To have the city recognized as a global leader in ocean technology and a global centre for offshore energy expertise;

•    To be recognized as a destination of choice for people seeking unique visitor experiences;

•    To be recognized as a distinctive Canadian artistic metropolis and

•    To be a magnetic and desirable city for young professionals, newcomers, business and investment.

Generally discussion on each of the topics was about making St. John’s a vibrant and desirable place to live and how that could be achieved.

Suggestions included improving the harbour front, providing the best infrastructure now for later, looking into expertise in other energies and lobbying for improved health services wherever possible.

On the issues of tourism and the arts, the general consensus was that they were certainly worthwhile, and necessary to keep on the list, but that there was little to do to improve on the uniqueness and quality of what already exists in St. John’s.

Specifically on tourism, most agreed that the packaging and a focus on St. John’s, rather than Newfoundland, was key, as was a major investment in transportation links, including air, sea and interprovincial.

When it came to suggestions on the goal to attract young, working people and retaining those here, the room looked to Jill Pittman, a young woman from here, but living and working in British Columbia.

She said the reason she doesn’t work and live here is because her job — in rehabilitation — doesn’t exist here, and certainly not at a pay scale of higher than $13 an hour. She said she felt invested in St. John’s, that it will be her home again, but not if the cost of living keeps her from owning a home or having a high quality of life.

Other suggestions included progressive tax breaks, by Gary Lane, who also suggested businesses would benefit from clear legislative direction from the city.

The other consultations held in the last several weeks focused on representatives of the oil and gas sector, tourism and young professionals.

“A lot of the groups that we’ve done, they had specific agendas, because they come in with something that they’d like to see,” Hanlon said of the difference between businesspeople and the public. “But these people had a lot of variety and they were talking with a passion for the place that they lived.

“We’ll take that and work with it.”

Hanlon said she’s looking forward to the upcoming youth consultation. If there’s enough interest, she said, she’ll hold another public consultation.

“These meetings, when I leave, make me prouder to be a person in St. John’s.”

For more on the Strategic Economic Roadmap, please see http://stjohnseconomicroadmap.blogspot.com or www.stjohns.ca

amorrissey@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Strategic Economic Roadmap

Geographic location: Newfoundland, British Columbia

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  • Moretownies
    October 03, 2010 - 18:31

    A unique visitor experience? Outside of downtown, St. John's is probably the ugliest city in Canada. Take a picture of Kenmount Road sometime and show it to someone. The newer parts of your city have horrendous traffic. Want to have a great province? Get rid of this culture where people whine about everything. People complain about George Street, but they want to provide great tourist experiences. It's akin to Austin wanting to get rid of 6th Ave. Newfoundland would be great if you kicked out all of the people who just complain about everything. It also wouldn't kill you guys to plant a few trees, so your city doesn't look so barren and ugly. Anywhere where people have moved in from "around the bays" as you call it is completely devoid of trees or plants. It's ugly.

  • Esron
    October 02, 2010 - 17:39

    @PoliticalWatcher: See, here's the thing... and it is mathematically proven...but not only that, but is common sense... But obviously, no one has that... Amalgamation, will NOT work... it will NEVER work [here], and therefore should be out of people's minds for the next 100 years! You cannot/will not maximize potential by expanding your land mass, with out adequately expanding your tax base with a minimum amount of people to maintain the services required at the proper level. Basically saying, the population has to be far more dense [per person...not mentally - already there] to make certain that the services for the new, expanded land mass can be paid for. If anything, St. John's should be split up [As they continue, unabated to expand with low low density subdivisions] in to the former communities that existed. As each "town" would have control over their tax rate, they can maximize potential by gearing their taxes to the density of the local population to maintain services, meaning all those nice new shiny homes in low density subdivisions would have high taxes, and those in higher density, downtown, would have lower taxes [more people per KM² to pay for services, in a smaller landmass] and would force the lower density areas to bulk up in order to survive. Mount Pearl is a perfect example of this: Boxed in on all sides has forced it to bulk up [as it can't go out] and as a result, affords residents with good services [clean sidewalks anyone?!] for a decent tax rate, and as a result, the city budget is balanced [Unlike St. John's who is sprawlier, and less dense... Despite the higher tax rates.] Stop being a "armchair" Political watcher, get an education, and actually study this issue, instead of being a Torontonian in attitude. P.S. ... It work soooooo well there too... [Side note, one of the CAPTCHAs I got had the word "Róna"... How, pray-tell can most anglo keyboards type that?! Mine can - it's custom built... but Joe Blows can't...]

  • Political Watcher
    September 30, 2010 - 07:21

    The Northeast Avalon will not realize its true potential until amalgamation is done. Mount Pearl is taking full advantage of their free ride off St. John's back. They aren't even serious in their efforts; just go over the past year of Council minutes and just look at where they travel too and what for; you will find items and conferences that will have no relevance on Mount Pearl of the Province, just a free holiday on the taxpayer. They have no major infrastructure responsibilities as St. John's handles all this on their behalf. There has been a mass exodus of senior staff over the past year which must speak to the leadership in the Town Hall; why leave now? If the Premier needs any one reason for amalgamation it is the Gushue Highway debacle; Simms and company are holding their reidents and the Avalon hostage by not contributing to the road. The media should request the traffic count study which was completed on Commonwealth and just look at the benefit to Mount Pearl onec the Gushue highway is completed; they will see a 75% reduction in traffic on this road; now I am no genious but with such a large reduction in traffic one would expect the maintenance costs to drop as well.