Council votes against heritage recommendations

Dave Bartlett
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St. John's Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff.


St. John's city council voted down two recommendations from its heritage advisory committee Monday, in regards to two developments on Duckworth Street.

The heritage committee had recommended council defer a decision on a proposed pedway over the street which would link the Marriott Courtyard with a proposed extension to that hotel on the north side of Duckworth.

The committee wanted the vote deferred until the city created guidelines for pedways in heritage areas.

Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff told council the committee did approve the design of the hotel expansion - even though the actual development has yet to be approved by council.

"Approving a pedway in the absence of clear guidelines ... under which pedways should be approved might set a precedent that would encourage the undue and inappropriate proliferation of these structures in the downtown," she said.

But several councillors disagreed.

Ward 3 Coun. Bruce Tilley was in favour of the pedway and noted Marriott is a world-renowned hotel chain.

"The pedway ... the company is proposing is an integral part of the extension of the hotel, in my opinion," he said.

Tilley also noted other pedways already exist downtown.

Coun. Gerry Colbert said the pedway should be built because it was impractical to have people staying across the street to have to put on outdoor clothes just to go down for breakfast.

"We live in a winter city," he said.

Ward 2 Coun. Frank Galgay - who represents the downtown - also said he would vote against deferral.

"I don't think (a pedway) would really hurt the historic ambience of the east-end of Duckworth Street," he said.

But Duff did get support from councillors Sandy Hickman and Sheilagh O'Leary

"It opens up a flood of potential new pedways," O'Leary said. "If we don't have (a) policy, we could look like space 2070 with all of these things, basically zooming overhead, all over the place."

The vote to defer was defeated 8-3, and the vote to allow the pedway as part of the development passed by the same margin.

The second recommendation of the heritage committee, which council voted against was for the proposed design for the parking garage that's part of the condominium development at the former CBC Radio building.

The developer has been asked to resubmit the design for the garage at least three times over the last six months or so. But the committee agreed unanimously the latest plan still doesn't fit in with the heritage look of downtown.

But many on council said the new design is quite different.

"It looks like a very good design," Ward 4 Coun. Debbie Hanlon said. "It looks very attractive."

"This design looks markedly different than the initial one," Ward 1 Coun. Danny Breen added.

Breen said the design looks similar to another parking garage design the heritage committee approved.

In the end, council voted 7-4 to accept the design as presented with Galgay joining Duff, O'Leary and Hickman who all voted against the plan.


Organizations: Marriott Courtyard, CBC Radio

Geographic location: Duckworth Street, St. John's

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Recent comments

  • David
    June 29, 2011 - 09:49

    Preserving heritage takes a lot of commitment in any situation, but in the face of a once-in-eternity building boom it requires some real backbone. That does not exist in St, John's, or in Newfoundland generally. We do not have the principled leadership or deeply held value system to protect much of anything when there's a cheque dangling in front of salivating addicts with 4-year careers and 15-minute attention spans. It's too bad, but it is what it is...let's stop wasting (some) people's time and everyone's money, going through the motions, pretending like we're as enlightened as the mainlanders, and just let the developers build whatever it is they're going to build.

  • Anna
    June 29, 2011 - 09:27

    If Councillors O'Leary, Hickman and Duff had their way, we would still be driving horse and carriages downtown. Downtown has been ruined already and it is time to move on. As far as I'm concerned when you got rid of the old Bank of Montreal and allowed the current building to go up we started to go down hill. Next came Atlantic Place and the list goes on. At least the Marriott owners keeps their property spotless which is more than can be said for some of the so called heritage properities.

  • Michelle
    June 29, 2011 - 09:24

    I am of the belief that Deputy Duff is CEO of the anti-development committee of St. John's and takes pride in letting people know this city is closed for business development. Instead, she goes on CBC yesterday morning and talks about the "heritage" on that end of Duckworth St. with the delapidated buildings with peeling paint. Right. At least the Marriott is trying to make the area look a bit better.

  • Saucy Face
    June 29, 2011 - 09:24

    fordelms is all sacrificing new jobs to keep our children here, progress and increasing the tax base to make the city more affordable for the sake of the few measley tourists who come here in the summertime. Enough of this sentimental and unrealistic crap from fordlems and the others like him.

  • pfmurphy
    June 29, 2011 - 08:55

    If we don't want a heritage area, why do we have one? If Council is going to apporve proposal after proposal that obscures the nature of the area, then why should the poor taxpaying home owners be held to the heitage rules? Since Council believes that we can do without the heritage area and the tourists and tour boats that it brings, well maybe the area should look like the latest housing development or the downtown of Toronto or Montreal. After all, we have so much industry and commerce that we can surely do without the tourists so let's approve every proposal and be every business, except tourism business, friendly!

  • Political Watcher
    June 29, 2011 - 08:06

    Well it is about time Council stepped up and dealt in reality: for too long the Heritage Committee stalled and killed good development projects in St. John's. I am all for heritage preservaion but I also know that we need new developments to move this City forward. We have to face it that St. John's is changing and if we are to meet the growing demnads for office, hotel and other buildings we have to change with it. Good job.

  • John Smith
    June 29, 2011 - 07:32

    Funny how when Fortis proposed a pedway between the TD and Fortis building they all went off the head. Funny how the two real estate agents, Colbert and Hanlon were so gung ho about the development. I guess that's how they run this crappy town, by whim. Whatever the bufoons at city hall want...what a bunch of morons.

  • fordelms
    June 29, 2011 - 06:50

    I find it amusing that City Council is so gung ho to attract tourist traffic to St. John's but doesn't seem to have any idea why tourists might want to come here. Do they really think tourists will be attracted to "The Oldest City in North America" if it is made to look like the newest city in North America? Yeah, tear down all the old stuff, build it up all new and modern with steel and blue glass, put pedways everywhere, modernize the place, then sit back and wonder why people don't come to experience our culture. I bet people are guaranteed to come here to look at old pictures of how it used to look, before we decided it would be better if the place looked like Toronto. What is it about standing for political office that drains the brains out of some people?