Livability seen as a pressing issue

Bonnie Belec
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Other hot topics include affordable housing and taxes

St. John’s councillor-at-large candidate Lorne Loder wants a more people-friendly place to live.

Loder, responding to a recently conducted Telegram/St. John’s Board of Trade online survey for

St. John’s candidates, said the most pressing issue facing the capital city is livability.

Of the 30 St. John’s candidates running in the Sept. 24 election, the St. John’s businessman was one of four candidates whose answer didn’t touch on economic growth, aging infrastructure, property taxes or affordable housing.

“We live in a great city in a great time, but there are ways we can still improve upon the livability of this city,” he wrote.

“A combination of improvements in public transit, snowclearing, green spaces and recreational facilities would collectively make

St. John’s a better place to live.”

Retired firefighter Paul Sears, also seeking a councillor-at-large seat, said density versus urban sprawl will have to be addressed by council.  

“It has to be a major priority of the newly elected council,” Sears wrote in his survey response.

“This issue should be dealt with within the first two years of office, if not sooner. Development has to occur within the city. The question is, what’s the best method for the City of St. John’s?”

Only two candidates — both newcomers to municipal politics —  Jennifer McCreath, running for deputy mayor, and Tracy Holmes, a candidate in Ward 4, put crime at the top of their lists.

“I am extremely worried about what appears to be an increase in illegal drug trade, and the associated violent crime that comes with this,” wrote McCreath, a community activist and police dispatcher.

She said she’s also concerned about the increase in traffic and what appears to be an increase in dangerous driving.

“I’d like to see more speed bumps put into residential areas to slow down traffic, and I’d like to see more traffic enforcement officers deployed to catch dangerous drivers and get them off the roads.”

Holmes, who doesn’t have a website with bio information and didn’t provide a photo, said while it’s hard to choose one issue as the most pressing, “one issue that will impact all citizens, however, is the influx of drugs (both legal and illegal) into this city and that we’re positioned to handle this properly. Preventative measures, such as outreach programs, would offer both direct and indirect benefits to all citizens.”

While not the only one to identify transit and parking as their top issues, Sarah Colborne Penney, a candidate in Ward 3, said council needs to address interrelated issues downtown to help improve accessibility.

“Those are traffic congestion, parking and development. An improved, efficient and regionalized transit system would help. As well as improving access to parking by rethinking our need to always drive downtown. Park-and-rides, rewards for carpooling and increased parking rates would all work towards freeing up access to the downtown core. Taking public transit must become a more desirable option, because it is easier and cheaper than trying to drive and park downtown,” said Colborne Penney, also a newcomer to the municipal race.

Incumbent Coun. Tom Hann, seeking re-election as councillor-at-large, and Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary, who is running for mayor, both agreed the city’s municipal plan, which has been in the works since 2011, is the most pressing issue.

The plan lays out policies on how land should be used and developed; which municipal services, such as roads, water mains, sewers and parks will be needed to accommodate growth; and in what order parts of the community will grow.

St. John’s council was recently informed by David Blackmore, the city’s deputy city manager of planning, development and engineering, that a draft will be ready for council by the end of September.

Last week, The Telegram sent all 30 St. John’s candidates a link to an online survey to complete. A joint project of The Telegram and the Board of Trade, the survey polled candidates on 15 key issues. Two candidates — Ward 5 incumbent Wally Collins and newcomer Fred Winsor, seeking a councillor-at-large position — didn’t respond.

In the coming days, The Telegram will publish stories outlining candidates’ positions on those issues.

To see their complete survey responses, click here



Organizations: Board of Trade

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Recent comments

  • Confused
    September 13, 2013 - 16:15

    Interesting article but I don't understand why Penny is running in Ward 3 when she lives in Ward 5 (Richmond Hill). I think she should be running for councillor-at-large if she's so city minded.

  • Joe
    September 13, 2013 - 15:45

    Why do we need a municipal plan when Hann and O'Leary and the present council are the first to vote for an exemption.