Margaret’s Place residents losing faith, says councillor

Dave Bartlett
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Development debate ends in approval of fourth storey for seniors condo

St. John’s City Council voted 8 - 3 to allow a previously approved seniors condominium to add a fourth floor, despite a lot of opposition from nearby residents.

Sheilagh O'Leary - File photo

In 2002, council approved a subdivision on Margaret’s Place including the three-storey complex. But the developer has since asked to add the extra floor — an increase of 11 units.

Ward 3 Coun. Bruce Tilley chaired the public meeting the addition on June 22 and presented his report to council Tuesday.

Tilley said many of the concerns of residents have been addressed already.

But Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary vehemently disagreed.

She was by far the most outspoken councillor against the addition, and suggested the whole development has been a disaster from the start.

“The word that was coming from the public hearing and from the residents in the neighbourhood ... is this is just a farce,” she said.

O’Leary then said, to her, it appears that’s the case.

She then listed issues ranging from traffic, sidewalks, emergency access to the cul-de-sac, access to laneways linking area schools and a mess left by the contractor.

“There were many concerns that the residents had 10 years ago that were not addressed,” O’Leary said.

Beyond that, she noted the developer has been advertising the fourth storey for sometime, even though council had yet to approve it.

“The public in the neighbourhood do not have trust in council in this democratic process and feel the process is broken,” said O’Leary.

O’Leary got support from Coun. Sandy Hickman and Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff, who said she believes council allowed an “over-development” of the area in 2002.

But the rest of council had no problem with the fourth floor.

Ward 2 Coun. Frank Galgay agreed there have been legitimate concerns with the development.

But he said it would be unfair to say the city has done nothing to address the issues of residents.

Tilley agreed.

“There’s been a lot of criticism of council at that meeting which I think was very unfair,” he said. “There was a lot of criticism with respect to our planning department (that) I think was unfair.”

Mayor Dennis O’Keefe had to call for order a handful of times as O’Leary spoke while her colleagues made their comments.

In the end council voted to allow the fourth floor.

However, it was agreed by council the city wouldn’t issue permits to construct the extra storey until a number of conditions were met by the developer.

Two other major developments were also brought up at the meeting.

An eight-storey office building for the corner of Job Street and Hamilton Avenue and a 12-storey hotel proposed for New Gower and Springdale streets were both unanimously sent for land use assessment reports and public meetings.

While most on council seem to approve of the office building, a couple of councillors said they had some concerns over the hotel, but would wait for the next step of the process to unfold before making any comments.

Geographic location: Job Street, Hamilton Avenue, New Gower

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Recent comments

  • Dorothy and her little dog too
    July 13, 2011 - 14:04

    Oleary, Colbert and Duff! Oh my! If they only had a brain ...

  • Phoebe Tilley
    July 13, 2011 - 10:53

    Seems to me Oleary and Duff are the problem in my city. They would both rather see a run down old building than a modern well built one. Heritage is one thing garbage is quite another. Oh well you voted both of them in so you get what you deserve I guess.

    • samatha
      July 13, 2011 - 18:29

      Actually the developer would have rather left one of the building under discussion be left run down except Duff and Oleary put pressure on them to fix it up! And as part of the neighbourhood we are still fighting with the developer to clean up their construction site!

  • Gord
    July 13, 2011 - 10:21

    Its time for another City Council election. There are too many people like O'Leary that have to be given the boot. I know I didn't vote for her last election. Unfortunately, too many did.

  • Joker
    July 13, 2011 - 09:43


  • Anne
    July 13, 2011 - 09:16

    It's been developed by Bill Clarke; aka defunct Myles-Leger. The city is afraid of this guy and rightly so. If you know his history you know why. 'Nuff said.

  • Sparky
    July 13, 2011 - 08:36

    I would`nt feel too bad Mr.W Bagg: I live in CBS & its the same here!, The only time that any "REAL WORK" is done is when Air Canada has a change in plans or if its something todo with hockey & the arena in kelligrews other then that its all a "Make-Work-Project", the roads are WICKED around here but come September & they`ll be patched-up by the same guys that did the work back in June! Taxes pay for for it all!

  • not in my backyard
    July 13, 2011 - 08:30

    I think councillor's main issue when voting is how close the development is to where they live. As long as it's not their neighbourhood, then it gets the vote, for the most part. Take a wild guess which councillor lives near Margaret's Place. I wonder would she be quite as firmly against it if it was in someone else's backyard? For the record I agree with her, but I think councillors as a whole tend to care much less about developments that are not in their immediate area.

    • samatha
      July 13, 2011 - 18:26

      Isn't that what Councillors are suppose to do is look after the concerns of the citizens in their area (St. John's) not the profit line of the developer? As a person who is being affect by the city's lack of planning I am happy that this Councillor is speaking up for my concerns. Maybe if you had attended the meeting you would have know that there is a lot more at issue then an additional floor on a Condo!

  • P F Murphy
    July 13, 2011 - 07:50

    "A number of conditions were to be met". What a joke! This bunch doesn't care about the taxpayers. They just want to approve what every developer wants. That's why the developer here advertized the fourth floor before he had even made an application. He knew Council approval is a joke. A bunch of retirees collecting their pensions and their council salaries while building another pension as a bunch of business suck ups! Every application, even from the mainland, has extra floors, extra heights, needed exemptions, blocked view plains, incursions and the like because everyone knows that after a period of sanctimonious examination pretense, they will get their approvals. If the Council had a reputation of guts, these developers would have their designs and plans in line with the rules before they even apply. That they don't shows what they think and we should think of this Council.

  • W BAgg
    July 13, 2011 - 06:50

    ....................the city has a planning department? It certainly doesn't look lie it to me. I think developers plan whatever they wish, and if it isn't inside the heritage area, it goes ahead regardless of council. Look at the traffic at Stavanger, biggest shopping area on the island and essentially one way in and one way out, look at the new bike trails on Columbus even though you tear out your tie rod ends and ruin you struts every year on the roads for cars, they could use some pavement, not a bike lane. Kenmount Road floods every modeate to heavy rain we have, no storm sewers, only ditches on the side, but yet a major subdivision dumping storm water into the river and Kenmount road I wouldn't be bragging about the planning of the city.