From promoting backyard gardens to mixed-use neighbourhoods, sustainability was the theme.
At the regular St. John’s city council meeting on Monday, even the approval for a restaurant circled back to the idea of creating a more sustainable city.
The former Mr. B’s Mini Mart and Deli on Airport Heights Drive is set to become a restaurant after the convenience store closed last year. City council had to approve the change because the lot is zoned for residential use.
Coun. Maggie Burton said the restaurant will help to make the area a “10-minute walkable neighbourhood.”
“Instead of getting in your car to go out for supper, you can just walk from your area. So, I think every community needs more amenities in both commercial and industrial uses in addition to residential, again, so that you can leave your house and go to school, or go to daycare, and then come home and walk out and go to supper instead of having to get in your car and drive.”
Another application in front of council came from a resident seeking a Crown land licence to do some home gardening.
It was unanimously approved, with Burton emphasizing her happiness to see an application for gardening.
“It’s nice to see applications that are actually working in reverse, as opposed to development applications that are trying take away potential growing areas,” said Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary.
The sustainability theme will continue on Tuesday as Burton, O’Leary and some city staff head to the Building Climate Resilience Conference at the Capital Hotel.
"I think every community needs more amenities in both commercial and industrial uses in addition to residential, again, so that you can leave your house and go to school, or go to daycare, and then come home and walk out and go to supper instead of having to get in your car and drive.” — Coun. Maggie Burton
Burton said they will learn about topics such as mitigating the impacts of climate change.
“We are a coastal city, and we have to take into account rising sea levels and changing climate in terms of our public works, and planning and engineering decisions, so I hope to learn a lot tomorrow about how we, as a municipality, and we as councillors, can take a leading role in that.”
Burton reacted to the recent report from Environment and Climate Change Canada which said Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world.
Burton said cities can be at the forefront of climate action.
“We need to start to take bolder action here in the northeast Avalon, as a lot of our coastal areas are going to be in danger because of rising sea levels,” she said.
“We need to avoid making the situation worse, then we need to mitigate as much as we can the effects of climate change.”
She pointed to the ongoing process of hiring a sustainability co-ordinator for the city as one of the steps council has taken to address the issue. She could not say whether a candidate has been selected, but the application process closed in March.