Status Update: What I've been working on
I hope you are enjoying the beautiful summer weather we are having. It has been a while since I’ve provided you an update on my work as Councillor for Ward 4 at St. John’s City Hall. In the next couple weeks, I’ll be in touch about the budget process, but in the meantime I wanted to provide an update on what we have been working on. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but covers some of the key items:
In Council I advocated and argued for the banning of corporate and union donations to municipal election candidates. The conclusion of the debate was to establish a panel to give us advice on the matter. My colleagues felt, and I agreed, that was the most sensible path to take with such a substantial change. Here is the rationale I shared during the election on why we should ban corporate and union donations in municipal politics.
Most issues I hear from residents about are traffic and speeding concerns on residential streets. I’m working on many of these across the Ward, but have made some key improvements:
Speed bumps installed on Pine Bud Avenue to address speeding on the street.
Argued successfully for crosswalk and traffic calming at the corner of Kiwanis and Ladysmith Drive.
Decision to remove the no-entry signs on Winter Ave and placement of speed bumps on the street.
National Cycling Strategy Motion: I put forward a motion in Council (that was unanimously supported) to call on the federal government to develop a national cycling strategy. This is a part of a national movement to call on the federal government to develop this plan which has the potential to unlock federal funding for cycling infrastructure as they have in place for public transit, roads, etc.
Cycling Master Plan: Over the next few months there will be public engagement and a consultant will be completing a cycling master plan. Once the plan is complete we will have a guiding document in hand to improve cycling in the City.
I hope to see you at the Bike Fest on September 16! Full details here.
We changed the tree by-law so that any new homes built in St. John’s are required to have a tree planted on the lot. Trees have great benefits in our neighbourhoods to slow traffic, they make people happier, slow wind speeds, and drink up lots of rainwater which reduces the need for additional expensive City infrastructure.
We are working hard to make improvements to Metrobus with an aim to increase ridership and make it a more effective service for current and potential riders. We are currently undertaking a review that will give us a set of recommendations to improve the service.
After discussions with the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre we now do a Land Acknowledgement before the start of every regular Council meeting.
Our Land Acknowledgement: "We respectfully acknowledge the lands on which the City of St. John's is situated as the ancestral homelands of the Beothuk. Today, these lands are home to a diverse population of Indigenous and other peoples. We would also like to acknowledge with respect the diverse histories and cultures of the Mi’kmaq, Innu, Inuit, and South Inuit of this province."
Greater budget transparency:
We have made changes to the tender approval process in Council. A small change to the tender form gives greater detail and context to that spending. This means Council gets further context on decisions its making and the public has further detail on how tax dollars are being spent.
And more broadly, the City now publishes the line item budget, which is the most detail ever released for a budget. You can see it here.
Council approved proceeding with the mandatory requirement of yard wastes to be placed in paper yard waste bags for curbside collection (same as the leaf program). This is a measure taken to reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill. We get charged per ton of waste into the landfill, so composting yard waste reduces that substantially.
Earlier this year we approved the addition of 10 hectares (24 acres) of cover to the Robin Hood Bay Landfill. This will capture the gases released from the landfill which will help reduce odours, the release of methane (which is a very potent greenhouse gas), and reduce leachate (rainwater percolating through the landfill and becoming contaminated). Too give you a sense of scale, many residential properties are about 0.1 acres. 10 ha (24 acres) is roughly the size of 240 properties. That addition brings us up to 52% coverage.
Kenmount Terrace Community Park
The new Park and community centre construction is well underway and is scheduled to be open early next year. In the photos below, from the top left, clockwise are: two dog parks (one for small and one for large dogs), a large skateboard park, a regulation basketball sized gym, and 3 on 3 basketball court.
Citizen Satisfaction Survey
In March, the City conducted a Citizen Satisfaction Survey. The survey is one of several ways we are seeking input from residents as we prepare for the City’s updated strategic plan and budget for 2019-21.
You can see the full survey results here.
Below are two sections that I thought would be interesting to get your thoughts on:
Thank you for reading. Don’t hesitate to get in touch anytime. I am best reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 709 576 8217.