Time for a review

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To be certain no one misses the significance of the Nov. 3 Telegram editorial that referenced Judge Harold Porter and the city’s antiquated laws, I write this letter to the editor.

It is one thing to chuckle at antiquated laws regulating where to park your horse and buggy in St. John’s.

It is no laughing matter, however, that the city cannot enact new laws to meet the needs of its 21st century citizens without prior approval from the provincial government.

This past July, Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary made a request for a timely review of the St. John’s Act. Timely is the operative word here, as Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff noted that the review began back in 1991. For those not clear on the significance of the St. John’s Act, it is the law which the City of St. John’s refers to in protecting us, its citizens. The act is available online at: http://www.canlii.org/en/nl/laws


As the City of St. John’s grows, it is vital that the 21st century needs of the people are met through the instatement of appropriate laws.

Life and cities change, and with that, laws must too.

Therefore, the most pressing task at hand for St. John’s council is to lobby the provincial government for control of The St. John’s Act, and for the right to make their own laws, independent of government intervention and approval.

This action must supersede all other matters on the city’s agenda. It makes no sense to discuss motorcycle noise or other citizen concerns unless the city can actually do something about them.

Sally Rowsell

St. John’s

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Recent comments

    November 12, 2012 - 13:05

    Calgary having control of it's municipal act is more the exception than the rule. If the St. John's Act has been under review since 1991 then the city has dropped the ball. The norm is for a city to do the review and submit to the province for approval, not for the province to do the review. Obviously the city has dropped the ball here, not the province. I know this as I have been involved with municipal government for close to 30 years here in Newfoundland. I cannot see the province giving the city control of it's act in light of this one fact that it has been 21 years now doing it's review! The city is at fault here, and even Calgary has provincial guidelines, I also have checked into this.

  • S Rowsell
    November 09, 2012 - 22:33

    Peter, Actually, I have done some research into what other cities in Canada do (Calgary, for e.g.) , and they do indeed have control of their municipal laws. I spoke with officials who provided this information.

    November 09, 2012 - 10:54

    Although I agree that the province should move faster on the review of the City of St. John's Act, I do not believe that St. John's or any other municipality should have control over their own act. This would be something new in legislation in general and no city has an act that is outside provincial control. That would mean that a city could pass a law of it's own that supercede provincial legislation, a very dangerous precedent. If the city act has been under review since 1991 then somewhere the city has dropped the ball, it is them that do the review, recommend the changes to the province who then insure that they do not supercede provincial legislation and pass it into law in the house. Something is very wrong if it has been under review since 1991, again somewhere the city dropped the ball. The province is constantly reviewing legislation, making changes and passing it into law and seldom does that take almost 20 years. The province must maintain control and approval, the city must be more diligent in getting the review done first.