Council can keep open mind on developer’s proposal, O’Keefe says

Daniel MacEachern
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The mayor of St. John’s says the city’s legal department is reviewing a decision by the Supreme Court that has overturned a council decision to reject a developer’s application.

St. John's Coun. Wally Collins

On Tuesday, the province’s top court ruled that Seanic Canada’s amendment to rezone property to build a seniors’ home was not given a fair chance by Coun. Wally Collins, whose ward would contain the home.

“Councillor Collins’ mind was closed primarily because of the opposition of those who elected him and not because of legitimate planning considerations,” wrote Chief Justice David B. Orsborn of the March 2012 vote, which saw council reject Seanic’s application 6-3.

It was the second time St. John’s city council rejected the developer’s application, after the Supreme Court ruled the year before council didn’t have all the information it needed before rejecting it the first time in 2010.

Will consider options

St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said Thursday the city will consider its options — including appealing the decision — once city legal staff finish reviewing the decision.

“I would say in a very short while they’ll come back to council with the direction that they’d like council to take,” said O’Keefe.

“They’re reviewing it, and we’ll wait for their advice, and we’ll see where we go from there.”

In Seanic’s lawsuit, the company accused O’Keefe of a conflict of interest in the development, noting his daughter’s parents-in-law live near the proposed development, a three-storey, 69-bed complex between Carondale Drive, Dorsey’s Lane and Old Petty Harbour Road. But Orsborn rejected the assertion, calling it “baseless.”

O’Keefe said he felt vindicated by that ruling.

“I was delighted,” he said. “The judge not only rejected it, he said it should never have been brought forward, and it should never have. It was totally ridiculous.”

If Seanic brings back a proposal a third time, though, O’Keefe says the company will get a fair look.

“He may come back with some changes in his application,” he said. “If he comes back with a new application, then council will approach it with an open mind.

“If the application hasn’t changed, some people will vote the same way, obviously. If there’s nothing new in a new application, then those who voted against  it once or twice before will, I would imagine, vote against it another time.”

Collins has not commented on the ruling.

Organizations: Supreme Court

Geographic location: Old Petty Harbour Road

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Recent comments

  • Thomas
    January 24, 2014 - 08:38

    The election is over Wally and you are safe for another four years towards your pension. Approve the thing already. If you want to show concern for people (who, if built would be in your district) approve it and have it built - if you are truly concerned about our seniors and affordable housing.

    • Mike
      January 24, 2014 - 14:33

      Fantastic logic, Thomas... You evidently have zero clue when it comes to the development's proposal. Approving the project based on the notion of being in a safe haven of just being re-elected is irresponsible & reckless! The proposal is drastically underpinned with it's many flaws!