Top News

Danny Williams clashes with St. John's council

St. John's IceCaps president and CEO Danny Williams addressed the media at their downtown offices on Wednesday morning pertaining to the public outcry on the City of St. John's providing the American Hockey League (AHL) team a $700,000 subsidy this past week. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram 
St. John's IceCaps president and CEO Danny Williams addressed the media at their downtown offices on Wednesday morning pertaining to the public outcry on the City of St. John's providing the American Hockey League (AHL) team a $700,000 subsidy this past week. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram 

Danny Williams said when he wrote a more than three-page letter to the St. John’s city council — suggesting Galway’s developers be asked for less, and more tax money go into west-end infrastructure — he assumed it would go public.

Galway Plan

So setting aside the suggestion by some council members the letter should not be public, or not just yet, does Williams have a case for discussion?

The former premier told The Telegram he wrote a separate letter to council about a month ago, after they accepted a plan for up to $10 million in public spending on traffic-related upgrades around Torbay Road, in the area of Major’s Path, Stavanger Drive and Hebron Way.

That area has seen significant housing and commercial development, with expansion ongoing.

“I wrote the city and said look, we’d like you to give earlier consideration for the construction of (another) roundabout, so that we can be ahead of the game before Galway really starts to get built up,” Williams said Tuesday.

He suggested problems like in the east end might be avoided in the west, if infrastructure along Pitts Memorial Drive was considered and upgraded now, before an expected growth in traffic.

“The mayor then came back with a letter to me that basically said no, this is Galway infrastructure, so therefore it’s Galway that has to build it,” he said. “So then I went back with this last letter.”

It was tabled at the Monday night council meeting by Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth. The letter makes Williams’ feelings on the response quite clear.

“I was, needless to say, quite shocked by the approach taken and the blatant unfairness and inequity given my ongoing commitment to go above and beyond with our massive investment in this city,” it reads.

It accuses the council of not being willing to spend in the west end like they do in the east, leaving residents in the west as “second class citizens” as a result.

“What I am merely seeking is equal and fair treatment for all residents no matter where they may reside,” Williams wrote.

Related story

Torbay Road Changes on tap despite Costco move

The letter specifically mentions a new roundabout proposed for Ruth Avenue, on the Mount Pearl side of the highway (though not in Mount Pearl), to improve traffic flow as traffic grows.

The site is not on DewCor land. And Williams reiterated the roundabout would not carry only Galway traffic.

He said he has done everything asked of him “and more” when it comes to building what will become the public infrastructure within Galway boundaries.

“You can see what I’m concerned about. I’m concerned about a precedent here that they say well OK, fine, someone’s driving up the road and they’re going to go into Galway. Therefore DewCor, Danny, you’ve got to pay for it,” he said.

The city has apparently asked the work on road upgrades be settled and completed sooner rather than later — before large tenants on the commercial side of the development are open for business.

Mayor Dennis O’Keefe refused to comment on the tabled letter following the council meeting Monday, directing questions to Ellsworth.

In an interview Tuesday, the deputy mayor noted letters about the development have been coming to the council as a whole, as opposed to city staff, or generally the planning and development committee. The letters were discussed in the private council meetings, held ahead of the regular public council meetings.

Ellsworth said he felt elements of the private discussion were more general and due to be moved into the public meeting.

Asked about details of the development plan, he said he is still looking for clarification on what was agreed to by Williams and DewCor as part of the Galway project.

But the roundabout is not currently required, Ellsworth said, and the Galway development will add to traffic in the area. If a roundabout is needed for the future, he said, it would be servicing Galway traffic and Williams should pay for it.

While the area out from Goulds, through Bay Bulls and Witless Bay is rapidly expanding, Ellsworth rejected any move for comparison to Torbay Road.

“If his development wasn’t going in and expediting the problem, in coming years the city might have to do something themselves. But because this project is going ahead and this project is a problem now, he needs to fix the problem now,” he said.

Ellsworth pointed to other developments — a facility on Fowlers Road, a new mosque off Robin Bay Road — where developers must complete public infrastructure upgrades.

But the issue here might be size and reach. It was suggested to the deputy mayor, given the size of the Galway project, the argument could be made Williams and DewCor are about to increase traffic throughout the Northeast Avalon.

So what are the limits on road upgrades? Would he be required to complete upgrades as required further along Pitts Memorial Drive?

“These are all good discussions,” Ellsworth said. “And that’s why it’s important to have this letter tabled and to have this discussion at our development and planning meeting, so that we have ourselves, all our staff and the general public involved into it, so we all understand what the issue is, so we can all have an informed decision and discussion on it.”

The letter is set for discussion at the June 20 planning and development committee meeting.

Galway construction continues at full speed, with foundations going in at the residential area and, Williams said, Costco will be moving in on the commercial side as announced. He doesn’t see the traffic discussion slowing progress.

 

telegram@thetelegram.com

 

 

 

Latest News