St. John’s City Council Briefs
St. John’s city council deferred a vote on a $100,000 grant to the Aquarena that has divided councillors.
Members of the media record the weekly St. John’s city council meeting Tuesday. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
As reported by the Telegram on Tuesday, the annual $100,000 grant to the swimming facility passed by a single vote at a finance and administration committee meeting last week.
Those opposed to the grant say the city has lost too much tax revenue to the provincial government to continue the annual grant to the Aquarena, which is run by Memorial University.
The arguments in favour, said committee chairman Danny Breen, include the benefit the Aquarena provides to the community as well as the city’s good working relationship with MUN, which extends beyond the Aquarena.
The grant still needed approval from council, but the city deferred the vote until a future meeting.
Coun. Bernard Davis voted against the grant in the committee meeting.
“We’re getting pinched by the provincial government,” he told The Telegram on Tuesday, noting he struggled with the vote because of the Aquarena’s recreational benefits.
He moved to defer the vote at Tuesday’s meeting because the city is meeting with university representatives on Friday to discuss several issues, including the grant.
“They’re partnering with us on the traffic study in the Elizabeth Avenue, Prince Philip Drive area,” he said. “They’re also doing a bit of work with respect to traffic calming on Westerland Road, which is positive, so it’s hard to hit the university pretty hard with sanctions or lack of funding when they’re trying to help us on certain things. So I think we’ve got to put it all on the table and start the discussions from that point.”
Among the grants approved by council Tuesday night: $100,000 to Iris Kirby House, $63,750 to St. John’s Clean and Beautiful, and $60,000 to the Johnson Geo Centre.
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An application to develop a bed and breakfast in the Battery drew the ire of Coun. Jonathan Galgay at Tuesday night’s meeting. The application was presented for informational purposes only, as city staff determined the bed and breakfast is a permitted use in its zone.
The developer withdrew an application for a four-spot parking lot across the road from the bed and breakfast, and has amended the development to include parking on site.
“The application was fully reviewed by staff,” said Hann. “It does not have any conflict with the footprint and the height overlays in the area. It will not have any significant interference with private views.”
But Galgay said he’s concerned that because it’s considered a permitted use there won’t be a public information session on the bed and breakfast despite his request to the developer to hold one.
“It’s unfortunate the developer in this particular case didn’t proceed to do that,” he said, adding he’s concerned with the amount of parking allocated: four spaces for an eight-bedroom facility. “You have staff, you have caterers, there could be weddings, various types of functions.”
Pointing to council’s recent rejection of a restaurant addition to a bed and breakfast on Waterford Bridge Road due to traffic concerns, Galgay asked the application be restricted to bed and breakfast only, but chief municipal planner Ken O’Brien noted the application is for a bed and breakfast only; other uses would require separate applications.
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Coun. Danny Breen was absent from Tuesday’s meeting. Due to his nomination as the Progressive Conservative candidate in next month’s Virginia Waters byelection, Breen will take a mandatory unpaid leave of absence from council duties.
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The city’s asking for the public’s help as exhibitors prepare for this weekend’s Home Show at Mile One Stadium. Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth noted the eastbound lanes of New Gower Street have been closed off this week to accommodate crane work being done on the Convention Centre Expansion.
“The closure of the eastbound lanes of New Gower Street is expected to cause some considerable challenges to the exhibitors who are moving into Mile One on Thursday, March 20,” said Ellsworth. “I will appeal to the public that, especially on Thursday, to avoid this area as much as possible. We’re going to have a large amount of traffic, commercial trucks moving in and out of the area. There’s a hundred-plus exhibitors.”