Kenmount Road discussion gives councillor road rage

Bonnie Belec
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Council stirs up debate about road regionalization

St. John’s city Coun. Gerry Colbert gestures with his thumb to his nose to illustrate a point during the regular weekly council meeting Monday evening.
— Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

A proposal to build a new hotel on Kenmount Road erupted into a full-blown discussion at a St. John’s council meeting Monday evening about establishing regional roads and making communities in the area share in the upkeep.

The application by Pacific Coast Architecure Inc. for Northwood Properties Corp. is asking the city to allow it to build a six-storey hotel with a height of 23.9 metres in a zone where the maximum allowable height is 15 metres.

The height restriction will be dealt with involving a text amendment to the development regulations, but it was the concerns expressed about the increasing traffic on Kenmount Road that got council driving home how it feels about the regionalization of roads.

Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said Kenmount Road is a road that serves people all over the region, and all one has to do to see that is look at the traffic coming in every morning and going out every evening.

“I have talked about the whole concept of the province establishing a regional road commission similar to the regional water board, whereby regional roads would be identified in various communities under the board and shared as to the maintenance and snowclearing and so on,” he said.

O’Keefe said the idea has to happen. He was encouraged by Premier Kathy Dunderdale, who said last week at the Atlantic Mayors Advisory Congress she believes in regionalization and everybody sharing the benefit of it.

“While I agree with you, it ain’t going to happen,” said Coun. Gerry Colbert, jumping to his feet.

“I hate to be the naysayer, but we have the Team Gushue Highway downloaded on us, and we decided to take it, because we thought it was the right thing to do.

“And it was the right thing to do. We have to have a road that connects throughout the city,” said Colbert.

“But the provincial government had it in their hands. They shouldn’t have gone to Mount Pearl or the City of St. John’s and said, ‘will you please help with this road? Will you please share the regionalization approach? Will you please work together to make this what it ought to be in this region?’ They came to Mount Pearl, and Mount Pearl put their hands on their noses and said, ‘Not us today,’” said the councillor, gesturing by putting his thumb to his nose.

“‘Give it to St. John’s. They’ll take care of it.’ And they walked away from it, and the government at the time should have had the guts to say, ‘You’re not walking away from it. You are going to take responsibility for it, and if you’re not going to take responsibility of it, then simply we’ll reduce your municipal operating grant to the tune that it takes to take care of it and that would have been the start of regionalization of our road system in the city,’” said an irate Colbert.

He said the ball was dropped by the provincial government on the Team Gushue Highway, but there’s still an opportunity for the government to say, “‘No, b’y, we’ve rethought this whole position and this is what’s going to happen, because we do need a regional road service and Team Gushue Highway is going to be our first priority, so get on with it.’”

Colbert sat down to councillors saying “here, here,” and the mayor agreeing with his stand.

The proposed development is located on the south side of Kenmount Road, about midway between Kelsey Drive and Pippy Place, and is adjacent to the Team Gushue Highway. Several buildings on the property, including Metro Place, the office used by the former St. John’s metropolitan area board, will be removed to accommodate the hotel.

“What we’ve suggested is staff look at a text amendment that allows as a discretionary use for the building of hotels, or whatever else people want to build in that zone, with the view to changing the requirement of 15 metres and allowing as a discretionary use to go higher and have more floor space,” said Coun. Tom Hann, chairman of the planning and housing standing committee.

He said given the area is in a commercial highway zone, it will more than likely be allowed as it doesn’t butt up against residential properties and would not have any affect on residents.

“We’re going to look at the application for the hotel, but before we do that we want to look at doing the text amendment and once we get that done it would be automatic then to bring it to council,” said Hann.

 Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff and Coun. Sandy Hickman both agreed by increasing the height restriction it could open the area up for more development, but in order to deal with more traffic, more access roads should be developed.

“Most of us are frustrated driving up Kenmount Road as it is. We need to have upgraded access points where we combine several properties where we can and maybe engineer these a little better to make them more smoother and efficient and to create a safe driving environment for people who use the roads,” said Hickman.

Organizations: Pacific Coast Architecure, Northwood Properties, Atlantic Mayors Advisory Congress

Geographic location: Kenmount Road, Mount Pearl

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Recent comments

  • roy
    October 30, 2012 - 14:40

    Didn't the city take on this Team Gushue hwy. Will this hwy feed the goulds, southlands, the area that was sprung greenhouse all within st. john's boundry. Now they don't want buildings over certain height. Remember the joke about no skycrapers in NL, no by we lay them on their flat and call them malls. My father never missed a city council meeting, he thought them more funny and hilarious than the Amos and Andy show. Keep up the comedy show .

  • Bobs Your Uncle
    October 30, 2012 - 10:17

    Kenmount Road requires extensive planning to meet future business expansion. This would be the widening with extra lanes and on/off merging ramps and lanes. This would reduce the need for traffic lights thereby reducing the congestion on this already below grade road. Oh and an overpass going from Kenmount Road to Mt Carson. That way all the people who want to go to Mt. Pearl does not congest on the City of St. John's, Kenmount Road. Enough Said

    • Eli
      October 30, 2012 - 11:00

      A more appropriate signature would be "A monkey's Uncle".

  • mifflin
    October 30, 2012 - 09:44

    Whose Hotel is this?

  • jeff
    October 30, 2012 - 09:41

    If Mount Pearl was awarded the old spung greenhouse land, which i might add has a entrance accessable only in Mount Pearl, They would be much more likely to help out with the new highways in the region. But it is a slap in the face to try and ask Mount Pearl to pay for a road that does not even run through its boundaries. And St. John's, get over your height restriction garbage. If you won't let someone build more than 15m, why build anyways? you need to make money and you need more rooms for that which means higher buildings

  • Mt. Pearl
    October 30, 2012 - 08:51

    Everyone from Trepassy to the goulds to CBS and Holyrood are going to be using the team gushue highway, why should Mount Pearl have to foot the bill for it? It's a regional road, let the provincial government take care of it. Sheesh.

  • John Smith
    October 30, 2012 - 08:37

    The tax payers of St. John's have been subsidizing the town of Mt. Pearl since its inception...why stop now? If we don't pay for them who will?

  • Saucy Face
    October 30, 2012 - 08:29

    If trhere was any doubt before last night that our current city council has abosolutely no idea on what they are doing when it comes to developing St. John's then that doubt is gone now. Every single proposal from Water Street to Airport heights to a hotel on Kenmount Road turns into a major debate that you'd only expect top see in an old Three Stooges movie. That moronic picture of Colbert pretty well sums up the childiish intellect of our entire council. Time to toss every last one of them out and elect a brand new council of people who know how to handle development without the 3 Stooges mentality.

  • Mike Lee
    October 30, 2012 - 08:22

    Here we go again with the Concilors short of any vision for St John's Why would there be restrictions for any height outside the downtown area If they want to call St. John's a place to be they have to get their heads out of the sand and look to the future. They need to encourage development of all kinds in order to have a better tax base Without vision there is no future!

  • Political Watcher
    October 30, 2012 - 08:03

    Firstly please let me say that I am not usually in agreement with Colbert but on this one I am. Mount Pearl should have their Municipal Operating Grant reduced to the amount of servicing the new highway. Call it as it is, they stand to benefit the most from it. Either that or the Province continue with no ramps or access to Mount Pearl. St. John's is the Capital and must expect some increase in traffic but to know that there is a neighbouring Municipaltiy that is pratically living of the City and their services is outrageous. If Mount Pearl had to develop and provide their own core services such as Fire, Waste management, Water, public transportation etc, they wouldn't be able to exhist. Currently it is like someone gong around to the best restauants and picking the popular items from the menu and then re-selling them at their own restaurant.

  • scottcoady
    October 30, 2012 - 07:49

    nothing was wrong with our roads before team gushue highway and the crosstown and the torbay snafu as well. we did ok before all these were built we did well before the commercial redevelopment of the east end... MUCH WANTS MORE..

  • Jeremiah
    October 30, 2012 - 07:33

    Amalgamation of the NE Avalon! Come on! No brainer! Should have happened years ago.

  • Bill Perks
    October 30, 2012 - 07:12

    Lets get the infrastructure in place before any more development takes place. The city is expanding too fast and as a result our taxes can't keep up with maintenance. Let's keep some green spaces. We don' want a concrete jungle.

  • Don
    October 30, 2012 - 06:50

    I fully agree with Colbert.

  • J
    October 30, 2012 - 06:37

    That's why St. John's will never be a great city. Small minds. A 15 metre height restriction?? I remember seeing bigger barns than that when I lived in Calgary.

  • Fred Penner
    October 30, 2012 - 06:31

    Might I suggest that the city expand it's planning department and include a few more civil engineers in the lot? I understand that St John's is an old city and sometimes development occurs in places and in ways that are not exactly optimal but there are areas of the city which display a marked lack of foresight.

  • Brian
    October 30, 2012 - 06:27

    Now Colbert wants the government to be a dictator, look O'Keefe took on Team Gushue. If we do get to regional government somewhere down the road i hope the bunch on New Gower Street are long gone!!!!!!!!!!