The City of St. John’s is pretty precise about how much garbage you’re allowed to put out: “You may place up to 10 bags of garbage, each weighing 50 lbs or less, at the curb each week.”
Imagine for a moment that you’re not amenable to that particular restriction and decided to put out 27 bags instead. Would you expect the city to just pick up the bags without a word?
Or parking: there are precise rules for parking in the downtown, from paying meters to obtaining on-street parking permits to following rules about snowclearing and street widening in the winter.
Say that the city came by and plastered your neighbourhood with signs saying street widening would take place overnight, and you just didn’t feel like abiding by the parking restrictions. Would you expect your car to be where you left it in the morning, or would you expect it to be impounded?
What about your yard? Say you wanted to build a deck and the city agreed to allow you to build one that was 13 feet long. “Balderdash,” you might cry: “That won’t even hold my extended family. I’m building a 27-foot deck, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Except yes, there is something the city can — and will do — about your deck. And it isn’t pretty.
But how about if you want to put 27 townhouses, for argument’s sake, in a place that the neighbours maintain can only legally hold 13 properties?
Not only will the city help you bend the rules, it will actually change them. That’s what’s happening at 12-20 Mount Cashel Rd., where a developer is preparing to cram 27 townhouses onto 1.3 acres of land (0.53 hectares).
The site will have to be rezoned — in fact, a new form of zoning is being created — to allow what the developer wants. And Monday night, a majority of councillors voted to give the developer exactly that.
You’d think the developer might be in the mood to give a little, too, being that it expected such big changes to the rules.
Neighbours are worried about crowding, traffic, building shadowing and about where snow from the townhouse parking lot will go. They’ve made suggestions, but all that is a no-go, as The Telegram reported yesterday.
“A report from city staff notes the developer was approached about removing four lots to allow space for snow storage and a small park. ‘Staff discussed this with the developer, who asserted that he would not be amenable to losing four proposed lots,’ reads the report from Ken O’Brien, the city’s chief municipal planner.”
Imagine if city staff came to discuss your new monster deck, and you informed them you simply weren’t amenable to any changes.
“Off you go, city peons.”
You might not be familiar with the concept of a city demolition order, but you would be soon.
A double standard arises when people are not treated equally.
In St. John’s, developers and ordinary citizens are clearly treated differently. Why?