Your City

Development is all around us in St. John’s. It can be everything from replacing a deck to building a skyscraper. There are many systems, rules, and processes which are in place to control, evaluate, and ultimately decide on the types of development which will be approved within St. John’s.

Here’s what goes down before the shovel hits the dirt…

Before a proper application is submitted, any potential developer (including you!) has the right to discuss a proposal with the Planning and Development Department of the city.

The official ball starts rolling once an application is formally submitted. Once submitted, it will be reviewed by city staff, and passed along to the Development committee with recommendations. These include a specific recommendation whether to approve or deny the application. They will often make other recommendations including asking the developer for additional information or details. Any changes which would be required to either the Municipal Plan or development regulations are also noted. Some common requests for additional information include environmental assessments, land use assessment reports, view plane analysis, and traffic impact studies.

At the committee level, the application is discussed, and further recommendations are made. These usually, but not always, follow those of city staff.

The recommendations of the Development Committee are then heard by council, and voted on at regular council meetings. Depending on the type of application, there may be a need for a public meeting, or to notify residents of the area.

After any public hearings, or additional information is submitted, the application will come back to the Development Committee. Then they’ll read any letters of support, or opposition to the development, and the comments of those who spoke at the public hearing.

This opportunity for input on developments is often under-used by the public. Although the city has yet to progress to the point of making information on applications available online, they will make the application, including any maps submitted or prepared by city staff, which you can ask for.

Okay, so yeah, it’s boring, but important. I’ll go through an example. Country Ribbon Inc. to develop a “Protein Conversion Plant” on Incinerator Road (near the intersection of Pitts Memorial Dr and the TCH). The plant will use offal material from an existing poultry plant on East While Hills Road to convert usable meal and fat for animal feed. …Mmmm!

Anyway, here’s what has gone down so far…

March 30th, 2010—The Development Committee makes a recommendation (probably on the recommendation of City staff) for council to instruct city staff to write the provincial department of the environment and conservation and ask Country Ribbon for additional information on “methods that would be employed to control any potential odours” and “waste water disposal”.

April 5th 2010—Council votes to accept the recommendations of the Development Committee Report.

May 4th 2010—After receiving a letter from city staff, the minister of the environment and conservation put out an environmental assessment bulletin stating that Country Ribbon Inc. must prepare an Environmental Preview Report (EPR) for the proposed plant.

Now—We are currently waiting for this report to be completed. The minister also stated that the public will be invited to provide comments on the EPR when it is submitted.

I hope this is helpful for people to try and understand what I am only barely starting to after nine months of going to council meetings.

Any questions? Ask ’em below.

2 comments

  1. Jordan · April 10, 2012

    There seems to be a lot of red tape when it comes to some developments being approved, for instance the new housing development at ths site of the old Seventh Day Adventist School on Freshwater Drive.

    The city had a public meeting this week about the site and people in the area were very happy that the site would be developed and were happy with what the contractor told them about what he was doing but that meeting was only to to rezone the area from an Institutional to a Residential zone and now there will have to be whole other meeting on just the actual proposal.

    It might only be another meeting but it is still time consuming and pointless and this is just something I picked up on this week without even doing “research” so I’m sure there are a ton of other pointless time consuming things taking place which are delaying developments. It seems like it takes forever for developments to get approved here, it would be interesting to see how long it takes the average project to be approved and how St. John’s stacks up to other cities.

  2. concerned · April 10, 2012

    I would say that St. John’s holds up more development than any other city in Canada. All you have to do is look at the millions of dollars in development we have already lost downtown due to a few fools who live back in the fiftys. Its a dirty downtown that can use these multimillion dollar projects to clean up its image. Garbage ,grafitti and boarded up buildings are plentiful in St. John’s downtown area. It so sad to see it’s potential held back due to a few protesters who would rather see it all decay .

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