Fortis frustrations

Alisha Morrissey
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Development, heritage balance possible: mayor

Business owners aren't discouraged by the recent kerfuffle at City Hall in St. John's, according to the city's board of trade.

But that doesn't negate their near-desperate need for office space, says St. John's Board of Trade chairman Derek Sullivan.

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe was guest speaker at the Wednesday luncheon meeting of the St. John's Board of Trade. He gave an impassioned speech advocating development in the downtown as vital to the future of the city. - Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Tele

Business owners aren't discouraged by the recent kerfuffle at City Hall in St. John's, according to the city's board of trade.

But that doesn't negate their near-desperate need for office space, says St. John's Board of Trade chairman Derek Sullivan.

"Business people are optimists," he said after Wednesday's speech by Mayor Dennis O'Keefe, which alluded to the recent controversy around Fortis withdrawing a proposal for a 15-storey office tower on Water Street.

"The mayor is a great champion. We're always optimistic when we hear the mayor speak because he's cognizant of the benefits of the business community and what effect it has on the whole."

O'Keefe brought up the Fortis proposal in his speech to the regular board luncheon before being questioned on it after the meal by the media.

During his speech, O'Keefe talked about the 0.2 per cent vacancy rate for Class-A office space in the city and that the issue is only going to get worse as the city grows.

At points his voice rose to a shout, when talking specifically about recent events leading to Fortis pulling its proposal.

O'Keefe talked about the importance of developments - specifically appropriate developments that work for the city - and the price that the city will pay if they don't happen.

"I have a message for Fortis. My message for Fortis is that development matters ... success is a failure turned inside out and if we - as a community and a city as a commercial centre - can work together, we can make any development happen," O'Keefe said.

"Do we want a future?" O'Keefe asked during his speech. "Do we want to realize our potential? Do we want opportunity? ... Do you want to keep our young people here or do you want them in Calgary?"

After the luncheon, O'Keefe admitted to being frustrated with the proposal being withdrawn and the events leading up to it.

He said the atmosphere in the city isn't inviting to the business community, and it doesn't allow it to take advantage of all the opportunities available.

Regardless of the circumstances of the Fortis proposal, Sullivan said he believes there's a way to balance development and heritage.

"I think if you talk to developers they just want to have certainty," he said, explaining the board believes in creative use of open spaces, a mix of different types of businesses and a solution to the lack of office space.

Sullivan said he has members who are being forced out of their current office spaces, are having to look at options like building their office space - something a lot of them can't and won't do.

"We've had all sorts of calls on it. The board of trade is a big tent. Everyone has an opinion. We represent 750 businesses from the very small to the very large, and we got calls in particular saying that we need office space," Sullivan said. "We're talking to the city and we're talking to the members and we're saying that we'll be part of the solution."

amorrissey@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: St. John's, Water Street, Calgary

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  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    So Fortis didn't get to build its soul-less econo-box on the waterfront...and O'Keefe chastises the electorate like children?

    Well, at least you know your mayor's pricetag, it's just too bad that it's so low.

    Atlantic Place...ring any bells at all?

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Sean from Houston opining on urban living, culture and architecture?

    Really?! Anyone else been to Houston? The most interesting thing anywhere NEAR it is the Johnson Space Center, and it actually IS from the 1950's.

  • Heather
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    To New Generation - as a resident from outside the City we don't want the old cows! .

  • b
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Okeefe demonstrating once again what he is best at.....talking....and not much else.

  • Morgainex
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Downtown development is a wonderful idea - but only if carried out with some vision and sensitivity. The Fortis plan was a box - and boxes belong on industrial parks. Maybe the developers could have some imagination and consider the local venecular when going for something new - and maybe re-use the space currently occupied by derelict buildings on Duckworth before crying that nothing can be done.

  • James
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    Well, if there was any doubt, it's obvious whom O'Keefe really represents in City Hall. I might have more sympathy for Fortis if THEY weren't the ones responsible for allowing THEIR own properties to fall apart. Congrats to those councillors who stood up for the residents and the City against those who instinctively grovel before their big business masters.

  • Sean
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Geez!you would think that st'john's harbor were the home of old Ironsides or the Cutty Sark!What view are Shannie and her fellow (stuck in the 50s) nattering about?Oh!it must be that view of the oil supply ships swaying in the breeze going to and fro through the narrows.What a scenic wonder!!As long as St.John's men and women vote for the duffs and Okeefes to run your fair city the more backwater St.John's will remain!Beam me up Scottie!!

  • Jordan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    The problem with Fortis building on the west end of Water Street, besides the fact that they don't own land there, is that the new building was being constructed to expand there operations. If they built down there their employees would be fairly far apart which is not good when it comes to meetings. I would think that there would be an increase in traffic with having people going back and forth between offices.

  • taxplayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    The time has come for Danny to step in and do something about the misfits at the bunker. Downtown is a hodge podge at best. If the city is to grow development must be allowed and encouraged by city hall. This town is regulated and taxed to death.

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Jordan I thought you said you were leaving the province to get a job on that the Fortis Bldg was cancelled. Heh now you are telliing us you are an employee of Fortis with new information on the use of the bldg. From what has been said so far you are wrong they were not going to use it for their offices, but to rent to others. Perhaps that is the problem with the Fortis proposal they don't know what they want. And we still need to know why the Johnson project was treated so differently by City council.

  • Jack
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    St. John's, Canada's Halifax of the East where heritage groups have enough power to stymie economic growth.

  • Telling it how Id
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    This city is it's own worst enemy.

    You know why nothings happens? Because when the city decides on building something, they hold what they call a public hearing on it.

    People who are passionate (misplaced passion) about the the view of a pungent harbour show up and complain their precious view will be jeopardized. Sorry to say, when you can see Signal Hill and Harbour and Ocean from Mount Pearl, your view is not entirely jeopardized now is it.

    However, those are the only ones who show up and voice their opinion.

    If you want development, fight for it, voice your opinion that you want it and will not let a bunch of people who are nearly 1 foot in the grave tell you otherwise.

    Nuff Said.

  • Peter Johansen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Hans b'y, I have no connection whatsoever with fortis. Great way to debate though, as with so many others, when you have no grounds on which to put forth YOUR agena, you devolve into this kind of meaningless tripe.

  • I C Clearly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    HAHAHAHA - ohh Peter Johanson, thanks for the laugh this morning, and the advice on how to add meaningful debate. We are humbled that the telegram allows us to post in your shadow... I'll bet my bottom dollar that there will be compliant propsals for class A develpments made in St. John's. The opportunity is too great for capiatalists to ignore, and they will have to play by the rules. Your position that rejecting one ridiculous proposal signifies that St. John's is closed to development clearly illustrates your lack of grasp with reality and how green you and your kind really are. Business have made fortunes off Newfoundlanders with your inferiority complex, and will continue to try and exploit it if they feel the opportunity exists. We have a desrable product, there is profit to be made, and we are in control of how developments in our city affect our citizens. Either you are too dull to see that, or you have another agenda. Given the content of your posts, I think that the answer is pretty obvious.

  • Peter Johansen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Eastport Construction company wants to build an ugly building on the site of the old Woolworth's building, with a wrap around, stuck on the outside parking structure which would never be allowed in any other jurisdiction in NA...and will cost St.John's 10 million dollars(great scam), as well, will be way, way over the height restriction of four stories. There are already many, many buildings downtown that are 10 to 12 stories. It just makes no sense to me why one project went ahead, and the other didn't. The Eastport proposal passed very, very quickly and quietly, with little to no public input. Why aren't the naysayers screaming that the Eastport building will create a row of skyscrapers all along Water street??? This is an example of how a very few people have decided how the future of this city will be shaped. As the polls here and others have attested there was overwhelming support for the Fortis proposal. We have a dysfunctional council in this city. They are completly inept, they make decisions based on heresay and the whims of a few.The bottom line is that we lost a huge, huge project for the city. Not to mention that many more large businesses will now do anything but set up here with this current atmosphere. So sad, so very very sad. I guess if you are an arteest living on Victoria street somewhere god forbid if your sliver of a view might be obstructed. Anyway its all moot, dirty poverty stricken St. John's is NOT open for business, go elsewhere, go to Halifax, or Calgary, or anywhere but here. We don't need prosperity for our children, or for ourselves. We just want to wallow in poverty, as we have done for generations. Good job peg Norman and Beni Malone, nice to see who is really running this $hit hole.

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    There is our heritage & there is our future......Which one is more important??

    We have a town council that closely resembles our last provincial Liberal party in power. A group of people who are about as qualified as a two year old to run the city and deal with huge corporations and businesses like Fortis.

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Lionel,

    You should know this. There is no discretionary clause. Council actually has to pass an amendment to the Municipal Plan, which must then be registered with the provincial government, in order to vary the zoning by-laws.

  • Lionel
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    The key to this whole article is the quote of Sullivan's ... I think if you talk to developers they just want to have certainty,

    Certainty is what the city lacks because the Municipal Plan and zoning regulations allow councillors to use their discretion. And this is where the problems begin.

    If the discretionary clause was eliminated and the zoning by-laws gave clear and concise regulations, citizens, developers and councillors would know the rules.

    This is why we need to have a public debate concerning the Municipal Plan as soon as possible then everyone will know what is and isn't allowed within the zoning by-laws.

  • Pro Development
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    While no one is stopping you from leaving this $hit hole, Peter Jackson, you wouldn't be happy in Halifax, you see they have preserved their historic districts and a culture. Perhaps you would be happy in the Spartan confines of Fort McMurray. Hurry though, the sky is falling!!!

    On a different note, if Fortis developed at the other end of Water Street, it would provide much needed life to that neglected area. No. They want to make the rules.

  • Saucy Face
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Woodstock era old cows? ... That'll stoke the fires this morning LOL. To be honest with you New Generation, my feeling is that time is on your side because Shannie and her friends cannot hold back the fires of progress forever. The sooner they get off their high horses and deal with development in a reasonable way, the better off the downtown will be.

  • HUGHIE
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    WELL SAID NEW GENERATION. FORTIS
    SHOULD TAKE THIS PROPOSAL TO SHIPS INN WHEN THE POETRY READERS ART COMMUNITY,TREE PLANTERS MEET. TELL THEM IF APPROVED THEY WOULD GET THEIR GRANTS, WATCH THE APPULASE. BECAUSE FORTIS IS A GOOD CORPORATE CITIZEN THEY WOULD NOT FIT IN. IF THEY WERE LOOKING FOR GOVERMENT GRANTS AND TAX BREAKS , SHANNIE AND HER CREW WOULD BE ALL FOR IT, HER SUPPORT COMES FROM THOSE WITH THEIR HAND OUT, FOR THOSE WHO SAY RELOCATE TO OTHER PARTS IS LIKE TELLING BAY STREET TORONTO TO TAKE THEIR BUSINESS TO NORTH BAY ONT LOOKS LIKE THE LEFTIST RULE THIS CITY

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    One has to be very suspecious about all this ranting and roaring. Last year the Johnson group wanted to build on the west end of Water Street. They decided to cancel the project. Not a peep was heard. Now one has to wonder what is the difference. Both companies are major influences in St. John's. But one gets three councillors all in a huff. What is the connection between these three councillors and Fortis? I think it is up to the mayor and these councillors to clear the air here. Well Doc?

  • Alison
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Everybody take a breath and read carefully what Lionel West wrote.....with a clear municipal plan all this rancour stops.
    Fortis and every other developer would know clearly where there are zones to build and to what height...just like in other cities. It's not rocket science.
    My question is why has city council postponed debate on a new or revised or even updated municipal plan?
    Wouldn't it be great to have an actual overall plan for future development of the downtown including great office towers and parking spaces. It could be world class...it just takes some vision. Why not consult with some great urban planners. We've got something unique here..lets not blow it.

  • just saying
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    The only citizens who were rabidly vocal against the developement were the 300 odd rubber boot gang and their clinging on friends.

    I would venture to say that a plebecite of ALL the city's citizens would render a large number in favour of the developement. Once again, a few loud mouths causing a problem for the majority.

    I say let the 300 odd take a tax hike to make up for the shortfall caused by their disruption.....all in favour!

  • Nasty
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Since this band of misfits can not do anything right from the get go, why do they just not go off on yet another vacation with planners to see the countless other cities in Canada which have included the new with the old. Then they can return and have a proper working plan in less then six month and get this one horse town on the map. At this rate this generation will be long dead and gone before we see anything worth mentioning due to the petty complaints from the peanut gallery.

  • Whatever Bud
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    The Fortis Development will happen,if not soon er, later.The Dominion in Memorial Stadium went ahead against all odds. Oh,and on a sidenote,I don't know who told Dennis Okeefe that those glasses suit him-they don't. He's just trying to do a mini-makover similar to Danny Williams' new hairdo.

  • Hans
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    More Fortis insider propaganda from Peter Johansen. Blow it out your air hole.

  • Get a plan y don't ye
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    ahhhhh boo hoo, no office to hide in. Class A space whats that, one with a bed shower, squash court. Sure why don't ye just buy a cruise ship and anchor it of the point and turn that into offices.
    You guys have the smallest role to play in this whole piece, and you guys can even do that right. And thats the thing, you can't always pay oneone else to do your work. You guys shouldn't be paid until your term is up if it is too much of a distraction. It would help the voters see how much proof really is in the puddin. We should move our capital and start over fresh from scratch because this bunch got this one is wrote off.

  • Jack
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    I'm originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, a city with similar developer/progress versus historical heritage problems to St. John's.

    In Halifax, while developers want to build new office towers to help grow the downtown's economy instead of diverting the growth to business parks and satellite suburban communities, powerful heritage groups have used every effort possible to stop new office towers to ensure their landmarks like Citadel Hill and Halifax Town Clock are visible.

    This tug of war between developers and evil heritage groups has done considerable harm to Halifax's economic growth, especially in their inner city area, the Halifax Peninsula.

    If there's is a silver cloud in the developer/heritage group war, one of the developers, Armoyan Group, recently won a right to build new office towers after taking Halifax Regional Municipality to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

    Unfortunately, St. John's is now starting to sound more and more like Halifax as heritage and conservative groups are trying to stop new office tower's, hurting the city's economic growth, and nearby suburbs like Mount Pearl, Paradise, or Conception Bay South for example can capitalize on this problem.

    Mayor O'Keefe, as a person originally from a city with similar problems to St. John's, notable Halifax, now is the time to avoid Halifax's path and start allowing office tower's in St. John's.

    The Avalon Peninsula as well as Newfoundland and Labrador win in the end.

  • Hans
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Peter Johansen pretty much the same thing you are doing huh ? At least I'm not whining on the delusional, losing side like you are. Fortis needs to respect the zoning regs, else lose respect from local citizens. Respect gains respect, something you wouldn't understand.

  • Anne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Well said New Generation! Kudos!

  • Calvin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    The one thing about this story that gets me, and I could certainly be wrong about this, is the fact that if office spaces are built elsewhere wont that hinder the downtown? I mean, sure it will preserve downtown's heritage that everyone keeps talking about. But if a new office development is started somewhere else, and let's say Fortis gets their building adjacent to Donovans Industrial park (for example), then they and other businesses will start to abandon the downtown area. If a new office development begins where parking is readily available, and the site is easily accessible (via the outer ring road) then downtown will start to lose business after business until the only thing left down there are small local businesses. Some people will say great, thats what we want down there. However, without the big businesses the area will fall into disrepair because the small local businesses wont provide enough tax revenue to the city to keep up the area. Maybe I am way off here, but if the city and the people want to preserve the downtown area some changes are going to have to be accepted or the area will die a slow painful death.

  • The New Generation
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Who wouldn't be frustrated when you have a small select group of earthworms from the 1960s' raising havoc every time a developer even hints that one of the down town rat traps may be demolished to make way for progress?

    It's time to for these Woodstock era old cows to move outside the city and use their self indulgent BS to fertilize a pasture.

  • Sounding
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I cringed at every word the mayor lectured at his audience. It sounded like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood telling a group of kids the dangers of talking to strangers. The man is SO not leadership material. He's obsessed with the must build on Water Street mentality... sad sad.

  • Just an Opinion
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I believe we need to strike a balance when it comes to development and maintaining our history, culture, etc...

    The reason is that when we focus all our sights on one thing and that one thing disappears we are left with nothing. Case in point. Until 20 years ago, fishing was NL. Then the fisheries collapsed and we spent the last 20 years coming up with other industries. Tourism, small business, and now oil.
    In 30 years time will oil be the next industry to collapse? No one knows for sure. But a smart person does not put all their eggs in one basket.

    Therefore we need to make sure that we have multiply industries that will help compensate when one fails or faulters.

    Toursim is one of those industries. So is small business. People come to NL because it's not like anything else. If we become no different than another other city in Canada then why would anyone want to come here.

    Again, I'm not saying that we don't develop downtown. But rather we develop it smartly. We have to plan for the next 30 years, not the next 3.

  • Billy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    You could hire (St. Philip/Portugal Cove bunch) to come over some night with tractor and take care of the Heritage Buildings (0r Rattraps - i'm not sure which)

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Dennis is full of it. There is oodles of land which is zoned for fifteen storey buildings in this city, and there is a more than adequate amount of vacant land downtown which is already zoned for high rise development, but just not where the recent Fortis proposal was sited. All developers need to do is put in a proposal for development in an area which is zoned for that purpose, and it will get the full go-ahead from all of council.

  • Goulie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Dennis , oh Dennis.....here you go again trying to play both sides against the middle. Where was your leadership when this was being debated in the media and to a certain extent in the council chamber......as usual you were mute until you saw the tide of opinion change and now all of a sudden you are the champion for business developement in the downtown. As far as I am concerned if that ward of St. John's want things to remain in the 1950's as a heritage area then their mill rate should be increased to make up for the tax shortfall caused by a lack of developement. Then they can wallow in their squalour but they will pay for it. For gods sake look at Niagara Falls area the falls are lined with high rise hotels, casinos etc...if you want to see the falls you walk to where it is..............whats the difference. Small town ideas with a small town mentality.

  • I C Clearly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    A 0.2 percent vacany rate and lots of free land to develop? Sounds like a license to print money to me. There is plenty of commercial space to be developed. Mayor O'Keefe is not helping the city's cause by waffling on the regulations. Other developers will hesitate if they see any hesitation on councils behalf to enfore existing rules consistantly. Rather than lamenting Fortis' controversial attempt to gain special provlidges, O'keefe needs to send a firm message that the rules will be applied equally in all cases. Only them will other proponents step forward to fill the gap that exists.

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    So Fortis didn't get to build its soul-less econo-box on the waterfront...and O'Keefe chastises the electorate like children?

    Well, at least you know your mayor's pricetag, it's just too bad that it's so low.

    Atlantic Place...ring any bells at all?

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Sean from Houston opining on urban living, culture and architecture?

    Really?! Anyone else been to Houston? The most interesting thing anywhere NEAR it is the Johnson Space Center, and it actually IS from the 1950's.

  • Heather
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    To New Generation - as a resident from outside the City we don't want the old cows! .

  • b
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    Okeefe demonstrating once again what he is best at.....talking....and not much else.

  • Morgainex
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    Downtown development is a wonderful idea - but only if carried out with some vision and sensitivity. The Fortis plan was a box - and boxes belong on industrial parks. Maybe the developers could have some imagination and consider the local venecular when going for something new - and maybe re-use the space currently occupied by derelict buildings on Duckworth before crying that nothing can be done.

  • James
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    Well, if there was any doubt, it's obvious whom O'Keefe really represents in City Hall. I might have more sympathy for Fortis if THEY weren't the ones responsible for allowing THEIR own properties to fall apart. Congrats to those councillors who stood up for the residents and the City against those who instinctively grovel before their big business masters.

  • Sean
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Geez!you would think that st'john's harbor were the home of old Ironsides or the Cutty Sark!What view are Shannie and her fellow (stuck in the 50s) nattering about?Oh!it must be that view of the oil supply ships swaying in the breeze going to and fro through the narrows.What a scenic wonder!!As long as St.John's men and women vote for the duffs and Okeefes to run your fair city the more backwater St.John's will remain!Beam me up Scottie!!

  • Jordan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    The problem with Fortis building on the west end of Water Street, besides the fact that they don't own land there, is that the new building was being constructed to expand there operations. If they built down there their employees would be fairly far apart which is not good when it comes to meetings. I would think that there would be an increase in traffic with having people going back and forth between offices.

  • taxplayer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    The time has come for Danny to step in and do something about the misfits at the bunker. Downtown is a hodge podge at best. If the city is to grow development must be allowed and encouraged by city hall. This town is regulated and taxed to death.

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Jordan I thought you said you were leaving the province to get a job on that the Fortis Bldg was cancelled. Heh now you are telliing us you are an employee of Fortis with new information on the use of the bldg. From what has been said so far you are wrong they were not going to use it for their offices, but to rent to others. Perhaps that is the problem with the Fortis proposal they don't know what they want. And we still need to know why the Johnson project was treated so differently by City council.

  • Jack
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    St. John's, Canada's Halifax of the East where heritage groups have enough power to stymie economic growth.

  • Telling it how Id
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    This city is it's own worst enemy.

    You know why nothings happens? Because when the city decides on building something, they hold what they call a public hearing on it.

    People who are passionate (misplaced passion) about the the view of a pungent harbour show up and complain their precious view will be jeopardized. Sorry to say, when you can see Signal Hill and Harbour and Ocean from Mount Pearl, your view is not entirely jeopardized now is it.

    However, those are the only ones who show up and voice their opinion.

    If you want development, fight for it, voice your opinion that you want it and will not let a bunch of people who are nearly 1 foot in the grave tell you otherwise.

    Nuff Said.

  • Peter Johansen
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Hans b'y, I have no connection whatsoever with fortis. Great way to debate though, as with so many others, when you have no grounds on which to put forth YOUR agena, you devolve into this kind of meaningless tripe.

  • Peter Johansen
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    Eastport Construction company wants to build an ugly building on the site of the old Woolworth's building, with a wrap around, stuck on the outside parking structure which would never be allowed in any other jurisdiction in NA...and will cost St.John's 10 million dollars(great scam), as well, will be way, way over the height restriction of four stories. There are already many, many buildings downtown that are 10 to 12 stories. It just makes no sense to me why one project went ahead, and the other didn't. The Eastport proposal passed very, very quickly and quietly, with little to no public input. Why aren't the naysayers screaming that the Eastport building will create a row of skyscrapers all along Water street??? This is an example of how a very few people have decided how the future of this city will be shaped. As the polls here and others have attested there was overwhelming support for the Fortis proposal. We have a dysfunctional council in this city. They are completly inept, they make decisions based on heresay and the whims of a few.The bottom line is that we lost a huge, huge project for the city. Not to mention that many more large businesses will now do anything but set up here with this current atmosphere. So sad, so very very sad. I guess if you are an arteest living on Victoria street somewhere god forbid if your sliver of a view might be obstructed. Anyway its all moot, dirty poverty stricken St. John's is NOT open for business, go elsewhere, go to Halifax, or Calgary, or anywhere but here. We don't need prosperity for our children, or for ourselves. We just want to wallow in poverty, as we have done for generations. Good job peg Norman and Beni Malone, nice to see who is really running this $hit hole.

  • I C Clearly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    HAHAHAHA - ohh Peter Johanson, thanks for the laugh this morning, and the advice on how to add meaningful debate. We are humbled that the telegram allows us to post in your shadow... I'll bet my bottom dollar that there will be compliant propsals for class A develpments made in St. John's. The opportunity is too great for capiatalists to ignore, and they will have to play by the rules. Your position that rejecting one ridiculous proposal signifies that St. John's is closed to development clearly illustrates your lack of grasp with reality and how green you and your kind really are. Business have made fortunes off Newfoundlanders with your inferiority complex, and will continue to try and exploit it if they feel the opportunity exists. We have a desrable product, there is profit to be made, and we are in control of how developments in our city affect our citizens. Either you are too dull to see that, or you have another agenda. Given the content of your posts, I think that the answer is pretty obvious.

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    There is our heritage & there is our future......Which one is more important??

    We have a town council that closely resembles our last provincial Liberal party in power. A group of people who are about as qualified as a two year old to run the city and deal with huge corporations and businesses like Fortis.

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Lionel,

    You should know this. There is no discretionary clause. Council actually has to pass an amendment to the Municipal Plan, which must then be registered with the provincial government, in order to vary the zoning by-laws.

  • Lionel
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    The key to this whole article is the quote of Sullivan's ... I think if you talk to developers they just want to have certainty,

    Certainty is what the city lacks because the Municipal Plan and zoning regulations allow councillors to use their discretion. And this is where the problems begin.

    If the discretionary clause was eliminated and the zoning by-laws gave clear and concise regulations, citizens, developers and councillors would know the rules.

    This is why we need to have a public debate concerning the Municipal Plan as soon as possible then everyone will know what is and isn't allowed within the zoning by-laws.

  • Pro Development
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    While no one is stopping you from leaving this $hit hole, Peter Jackson, you wouldn't be happy in Halifax, you see they have preserved their historic districts and a culture. Perhaps you would be happy in the Spartan confines of Fort McMurray. Hurry though, the sky is falling!!!

    On a different note, if Fortis developed at the other end of Water Street, it would provide much needed life to that neglected area. No. They want to make the rules.

  • Saucy Face
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Woodstock era old cows? ... That'll stoke the fires this morning LOL. To be honest with you New Generation, my feeling is that time is on your side because Shannie and her friends cannot hold back the fires of progress forever. The sooner they get off their high horses and deal with development in a reasonable way, the better off the downtown will be.

  • HUGHIE
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    WELL SAID NEW GENERATION. FORTIS
    SHOULD TAKE THIS PROPOSAL TO SHIPS INN WHEN THE POETRY READERS ART COMMUNITY,TREE PLANTERS MEET. TELL THEM IF APPROVED THEY WOULD GET THEIR GRANTS, WATCH THE APPULASE. BECAUSE FORTIS IS A GOOD CORPORATE CITIZEN THEY WOULD NOT FIT IN. IF THEY WERE LOOKING FOR GOVERMENT GRANTS AND TAX BREAKS , SHANNIE AND HER CREW WOULD BE ALL FOR IT, HER SUPPORT COMES FROM THOSE WITH THEIR HAND OUT, FOR THOSE WHO SAY RELOCATE TO OTHER PARTS IS LIKE TELLING BAY STREET TORONTO TO TAKE THEIR BUSINESS TO NORTH BAY ONT LOOKS LIKE THE LEFTIST RULE THIS CITY

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    One has to be very suspecious about all this ranting and roaring. Last year the Johnson group wanted to build on the west end of Water Street. They decided to cancel the project. Not a peep was heard. Now one has to wonder what is the difference. Both companies are major influences in St. John's. But one gets three councillors all in a huff. What is the connection between these three councillors and Fortis? I think it is up to the mayor and these councillors to clear the air here. Well Doc?

  • Alison
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    Everybody take a breath and read carefully what Lionel West wrote.....with a clear municipal plan all this rancour stops.
    Fortis and every other developer would know clearly where there are zones to build and to what height...just like in other cities. It's not rocket science.
    My question is why has city council postponed debate on a new or revised or even updated municipal plan?
    Wouldn't it be great to have an actual overall plan for future development of the downtown including great office towers and parking spaces. It could be world class...it just takes some vision. Why not consult with some great urban planners. We've got something unique here..lets not blow it.

  • just saying
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    The only citizens who were rabidly vocal against the developement were the 300 odd rubber boot gang and their clinging on friends.

    I would venture to say that a plebecite of ALL the city's citizens would render a large number in favour of the developement. Once again, a few loud mouths causing a problem for the majority.

    I say let the 300 odd take a tax hike to make up for the shortfall caused by their disruption.....all in favour!

  • Nasty
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    Since this band of misfits can not do anything right from the get go, why do they just not go off on yet another vacation with planners to see the countless other cities in Canada which have included the new with the old. Then they can return and have a proper working plan in less then six month and get this one horse town on the map. At this rate this generation will be long dead and gone before we see anything worth mentioning due to the petty complaints from the peanut gallery.

  • Whatever Bud
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    The Fortis Development will happen,if not soon er, later.The Dominion in Memorial Stadium went ahead against all odds. Oh,and on a sidenote,I don't know who told Dennis Okeefe that those glasses suit him-they don't. He's just trying to do a mini-makover similar to Danny Williams' new hairdo.

  • Hans
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    More Fortis insider propaganda from Peter Johansen. Blow it out your air hole.

  • Get a plan y don't ye
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    ahhhhh boo hoo, no office to hide in. Class A space whats that, one with a bed shower, squash court. Sure why don't ye just buy a cruise ship and anchor it of the point and turn that into offices.
    You guys have the smallest role to play in this whole piece, and you guys can even do that right. And thats the thing, you can't always pay oneone else to do your work. You guys shouldn't be paid until your term is up if it is too much of a distraction. It would help the voters see how much proof really is in the puddin. We should move our capital and start over fresh from scratch because this bunch got this one is wrote off.

  • Jack
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    I'm originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, a city with similar developer/progress versus historical heritage problems to St. John's.

    In Halifax, while developers want to build new office towers to help grow the downtown's economy instead of diverting the growth to business parks and satellite suburban communities, powerful heritage groups have used every effort possible to stop new office towers to ensure their landmarks like Citadel Hill and Halifax Town Clock are visible.

    This tug of war between developers and evil heritage groups has done considerable harm to Halifax's economic growth, especially in their inner city area, the Halifax Peninsula.

    If there's is a silver cloud in the developer/heritage group war, one of the developers, Armoyan Group, recently won a right to build new office towers after taking Halifax Regional Municipality to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

    Unfortunately, St. John's is now starting to sound more and more like Halifax as heritage and conservative groups are trying to stop new office tower's, hurting the city's economic growth, and nearby suburbs like Mount Pearl, Paradise, or Conception Bay South for example can capitalize on this problem.

    Mayor O'Keefe, as a person originally from a city with similar problems to St. John's, notable Halifax, now is the time to avoid Halifax's path and start allowing office tower's in St. John's.

    The Avalon Peninsula as well as Newfoundland and Labrador win in the end.

  • Hans
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Peter Johansen pretty much the same thing you are doing huh ? At least I'm not whining on the delusional, losing side like you are. Fortis needs to respect the zoning regs, else lose respect from local citizens. Respect gains respect, something you wouldn't understand.

  • Anne
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Well said New Generation! Kudos!

  • Calvin
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    The one thing about this story that gets me, and I could certainly be wrong about this, is the fact that if office spaces are built elsewhere wont that hinder the downtown? I mean, sure it will preserve downtown's heritage that everyone keeps talking about. But if a new office development is started somewhere else, and let's say Fortis gets their building adjacent to Donovans Industrial park (for example), then they and other businesses will start to abandon the downtown area. If a new office development begins where parking is readily available, and the site is easily accessible (via the outer ring road) then downtown will start to lose business after business until the only thing left down there are small local businesses. Some people will say great, thats what we want down there. However, without the big businesses the area will fall into disrepair because the small local businesses wont provide enough tax revenue to the city to keep up the area. Maybe I am way off here, but if the city and the people want to preserve the downtown area some changes are going to have to be accepted or the area will die a slow painful death.

  • The New Generation
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Who wouldn't be frustrated when you have a small select group of earthworms from the 1960s' raising havoc every time a developer even hints that one of the down town rat traps may be demolished to make way for progress?

    It's time to for these Woodstock era old cows to move outside the city and use their self indulgent BS to fertilize a pasture.

  • Sounding
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    I cringed at every word the mayor lectured at his audience. It sounded like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood telling a group of kids the dangers of talking to strangers. The man is SO not leadership material. He's obsessed with the must build on Water Street mentality... sad sad.

  • Just an Opinion
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    I believe we need to strike a balance when it comes to development and maintaining our history, culture, etc...

    The reason is that when we focus all our sights on one thing and that one thing disappears we are left with nothing. Case in point. Until 20 years ago, fishing was NL. Then the fisheries collapsed and we spent the last 20 years coming up with other industries. Tourism, small business, and now oil.
    In 30 years time will oil be the next industry to collapse? No one knows for sure. But a smart person does not put all their eggs in one basket.

    Therefore we need to make sure that we have multiply industries that will help compensate when one fails or faulters.

    Toursim is one of those industries. So is small business. People come to NL because it's not like anything else. If we become no different than another other city in Canada then why would anyone want to come here.

    Again, I'm not saying that we don't develop downtown. But rather we develop it smartly. We have to plan for the next 30 years, not the next 3.

  • Billy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    You could hire (St. Philip/Portugal Cove bunch) to come over some night with tractor and take care of the Heritage Buildings (0r Rattraps - i'm not sure which)

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Dennis is full of it. There is oodles of land which is zoned for fifteen storey buildings in this city, and there is a more than adequate amount of vacant land downtown which is already zoned for high rise development, but just not where the recent Fortis proposal was sited. All developers need to do is put in a proposal for development in an area which is zoned for that purpose, and it will get the full go-ahead from all of council.

  • Goulie
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Dennis , oh Dennis.....here you go again trying to play both sides against the middle. Where was your leadership when this was being debated in the media and to a certain extent in the council chamber......as usual you were mute until you saw the tide of opinion change and now all of a sudden you are the champion for business developement in the downtown. As far as I am concerned if that ward of St. John's want things to remain in the 1950's as a heritage area then their mill rate should be increased to make up for the tax shortfall caused by a lack of developement. Then they can wallow in their squalour but they will pay for it. For gods sake look at Niagara Falls area the falls are lined with high rise hotels, casinos etc...if you want to see the falls you walk to where it is..............whats the difference. Small town ideas with a small town mentality.

  • I C Clearly
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    A 0.2 percent vacany rate and lots of free land to develop? Sounds like a license to print money to me. There is plenty of commercial space to be developed. Mayor O'Keefe is not helping the city's cause by waffling on the regulations. Other developers will hesitate if they see any hesitation on councils behalf to enfore existing rules consistantly. Rather than lamenting Fortis' controversial attempt to gain special provlidges, O'keefe needs to send a firm message that the rules will be applied equally in all cases. Only them will other proponents step forward to fill the gap that exists.