St. John’s decision doesn’t sit well with Mount Pearl mayor

Bonnie Belec
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Randy Simms says bigger city displaying bad manners about development

Mount Pearl residents will have a say in the development of a piece of land that borders with St. John’s, but they won’t be able to stop it.

St. John’s received an application from Sobeys Land Holdings Ltd. to build a gas bar and convenience store on the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Brookfield Road (bordered by both cities), but instead of deferring it — as was recommended by the staff of the

St. John’s planning and development department to allow consultation with the city of Mount Pearl — council granted it.

“The fact the city of St. John’s went ahead and approved it Monday is a little disappointing, quite frankly, because it shows bad manners, but nothing else,” Mount Pearl Mayor Randy Simms said Tuesday.

“We can’t stop them from approving it. They’re well within their rights to approve it, do what they will with it, but I do believe the developer does have some issues because he will have to deal with the City of Mount Pearl.”

St. John’s Coun. Tom Hann said during council’s meeting Monday that he has seen how the operations work in other provinces.

“The reason I hope it doesn’t get bogged down — I’ve looked at the system they’re using in New Brunswick and in Nova Scotia, and they offer all kinds of discounts on gas by cross promotions with grocery stores, so it’s an opportunity for consumers to save money on gas. So I hope if we are going to vote for a deferral we should put a timeline on it so it’s sooner rather than later,” said Hann.

However, the majority of city council — not including Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff and Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary — voted to allow the application to move ahead without first consulting Mount Pearl.

Duff said while she didn’t have an opinion at the moment whether the application should proceed, she said out of courtesy for Mount Pearl it should be deferred for a couple of weeks.

O’Leary agreed.

Hann said it is a given the City of Mount Pearl would be informed.

Regardless of the approval by St. Johns, Simms said a public information session will still go ahead in September.

“We promised the residents that be-fore any development took place on that corner, no matter what it was, even though it stands outside our boundary, we would hold a briefing a session,” he said.

“We said we would get the developer to come in to explain what it was they were doing, get input from the residents and make commentary to the City of St. John’s on that particular site because it is flush to our boundary,” Simms said.

He said the developer has said the presentation will be made in the same way as if the development was occurring inside Mount Pearl’s boundary.

“We think that’s positive. I’m sure there are residents, particularly in the area, that will have some concerns about the site, but we all have to recognize (someone) is going to want a commercial site like that.

“Something is going to go there. The question is what is it and how do you develop the site so you provide the least amount of impact to people that are already there. That’s really the issue,” Simms said.

He said that can be done co-operatively, as St. John’s and Mount Pearl have done for many years on many projects, and will continue to do.

“We could’ve done it here too. I just think it’s unfortunate they moved so quickly and it’s going to make residents in the area feel as if they are not going to be given any input at all and that is not the circumstance,” Simms said.

The meeting will be held Sept. 3.

Organizations: Sobeys Land Holdings

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Commonwealth Avenue, Brookfield Road New Brunswick Nova Scotia

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