St. John's Municipal Plan Review 2012 ... - City of St. John's

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St. John's Municipal Plan Review 2012 ... - City of St. John's

St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012BACKGROUND REPORTFebruary 15, 2012


iSt. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportMessage from the Chair...This report is the first step in the review of the St. John’s Municipal Plan, 2003. The resultwill be a new Municipal Plan that will help shape our city for the next 10 years or more.Our current Plan, which was approved by St. John’s Municipal Council in 2003, will bereviewed in light of today’s conditions. Our city has grown and our population is increasing.We need to look at where we should grow and how to create and maintain safe, pleasantneighbourhoods with shops, parks and services nearby, while fostering a productive businessclimate. The Municipal Plan will set out ways to reuse old buildings and develop newbuildings in established neighbourhoods. We must look at how to make the best use of ourheritage area and heritage buildings. Our review will also look at protecting land aroundlakes, rivers, and coastlines; how we can support farming and other rural land uses; andreserving land for present and future drinking-water supplies. The Municipal Plan also looksat how the layout of the city can help traffic move, while supporting walking, public transit,and cycling. There is much more to consider and there will be ample opportunities for publicinput into the process.Overall, the Municipal Plan expresses Council’s policies on land-use and development,based on the needs and desires of the city as a whole.Councillor Tom HannChair of the Planning and Housing Standing Committee


3 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportIntroductionLand-use planning affects many aspects oflife in St. John’s. It helps determine wherewe live and where we go to work; whereparks and recreational facilities should be;where our schools and hospitals are built;and where roads, sewers and other essentialservices are needed.Land-use planning helps manage our landand resources responsibly. It helps St.John’s set goals about how we will growand develop while keeping importantsocial, economic and environmentalconcerns in mind. It balances the interestsof individual property owners with theobjectives of the entire community. Goodplanning leads to orderly growth and theefficient provision of services. It helps usto have the kind of community we want.A municipal plan is a legal documentwhich sets out the municipality’s vision,goals, objectives and policies for thelong-term development of land and theprovision of services and amenities.The municipal plan expresses thevalues of the community, responding tochanging circumstances over time. Allmunicipalities in Newfoundland andLabrador are required under the Province’sUrban and Rural Planning Act to have amunicipal plan.The City of St. John’s is now startinga review of our St. John’s MunicipalPlan, 2003, and the associated St. John’sLand-Use Zoning and SubdivisionRegulations (commonly called the St.John’s Development Regulations). ThisBackground Report has been prepared as asource document to be used by Council andthe general public as a basis for dialogueand informed decision-making.This report will summarize existingconditions in the City of St. John’s andthe St. John’s Census Metropolitan Area(CMA) in a number of subject areas. Someof the issues which have emerged since the2003 Municipal Plan was adopted will bediscussed as well.


6 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportBackgroundSt. John’s Municipal Plan, 2003The present St. John’s Municipal Planwas adopted by Council on June 9, 2003,and came into legal effect on December 5,2003. The City of St. John’s adopted its firstmunicipal plan under the Urban and RuralPlanning Act in 1984. Land-use regulationsgo back to the St. John’s Zoning By-Law,1955, which was adopted by Council underthe City of St. John’s Act.The Watershed District is the single largestland-use district, making up 27 per centof all the land in St. John’s. This reflectsthe presence of five separate watersheds toprotect drinking water. The watersheds, andother Resource and Environmental lands (inthe Agricultural, Restricted Development,and Forestry districts) occupy slightly morethan half the total area of St. John’s.The 2003 St. John’s Municipal Plan isdivided into four parts:• Part I: Purpose and Scope: Thisprovides background information onrevisions to the previous MunicipalPlan and describes the legal basis forthe plan.• Part II: Vision: This general statementsets out the framework for theMunicipal Plan.• Part III: City-Wide Objectives andPolicies: These apply to the entire city,or to portions of it in particular land-usedistricts.• Part IV: Planning-Area DevelopmentPlans: The City is divided into 21planning areas; some of these haveDevelopment Plans which have moredetail than the Municipal Plan. Forexample, the Goulds (Planning Area 16)has a Planning-Area Development Plan.They were originally called planningareadevelopment schemes.Rural lands, which are not intended to beprovided with municipal water and sewerservices, occupy a fifth of the city. Ofthe remaining land area, eight per cent isdesignated as Residential and eight per centis for Parks and Recreation. Employmentlands – those designated Commercial orIndustrial – make up only 5.2 per cent of thecity’s land area.On January 1, 1992, the land area of the Cityof St. John’s increased dramatically, from101 to 483 square kilometres. On that date,the Provincial Government amalgamatedthe City with the former towns of Gouldsand Wedgewood Park, the unincorporatedcommunity of Blackhead, the lands onIncinerator Road outside Foxtrap in theTown of Conception Bay South, andrural areas that were administered by theformer St. John’s Metropolitan Area Board,including Southlands. On the same date,Metro Board was disbanded.


7 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportBackgroundMunicipal Plan AmendmentsThe Urban and Rural Planning Act makesprovision for a municipality to amend itsmunicipal plan and development regulations.This reflects the fact that conditions canchange, or developments can be proposedthat make good sense but were not foreseenwhen the plan was written. Any municipalplan is a living document.Text amendments to the current St.John’s Municipal Plan and DevelopmentRegulations include: the creation of anecclesiastical district (centered on the maindowntown churches, schools, and religiousbuildings within the Heritage District;the introduction of design guidelines forthe Battery neighbourhood and the lowerparts of Signal Hill; the allowance of fullyresidential buildings in Commercial districts;allowing greater building bulk and height inparts of the Commercial Downtown District;changes to allow different types of farmingto help farmers adapt their operations; anda change to allow multiple dwellings (withno more than six units) as a discretionaryuse in the Residential Medium Density (R2)Zone as a way of encouraging residentialintensification.


9 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportPlanning Issues in St. John’sHousingThe City’s Department of Building andProperty Management shows that anaverage of 550 single detached houses arebeing built in St. John’s annually. Between2000 and 2011, there were 6,042 singlehouses built; of these, 17 per cent (or 1,036houses) contained subsidiary or basementapartments.average (79 per cent).The price of new housing has been steadilygoing up, increasing by 19.6 per cent in2008, 11.5 per cent in 2009, and 15.5 percent in 2010, which caused the average priceof a new single-detached house in the St.John’s CMA to reach $325,436.In 2006, there were 41,540 dwellingunits (this includes single houses, semidetachedor double houses, row houses, andapartments) in the City.The dominant housing form is the singledetached house which constituted 42.5 percent of the total housing stock. Units inapartment buildings were the least common,constituting 14.2 per cent of the stock.Almost one-half of all units were constructedbefore 1971, and a third of those (5,700houses) were built before 1946.Between 2002 and 2010, the average costof all houses (newly built and old) in theSt. John’s CMA rose 108 per cent, from$113,081 to $235,241. This increase isgreater than in other Atlantic Canadian cities(Halifax 70 per cent, Moncton 52 per cent,Saint John 65 per cent) and the CanadianEveryone needs suitable, affordable housing,whether by rental or purchase. The Cityof St. John’s Affordable Housing Charterand Action Plan 2011-2013 (locatedat: http://www.stjohns.ca/cityhall/pdfs/affordablehousing.pdf), states that:“Housing prices and rental rates are risingsharply at many times the rate of inflation,and the rental vacancy rate has beenamong the lowest in Canada since 2008.In the housing market, the task of securingadequate, affordable housing is becomingextremely difficult for people across theincome spectrum. The rapidly expandingeconomy has consequences that mustbe addressed so that growing prosperityproduces benefits for the whole community.The experience of other communities showsthat widespread housing instability has highsocial and economic costs.”


10 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportPlanning Issues in St. John’sCity InfrastructureIn the past decade, vehicle traffic within theCity has been improved by the Outer RingRoad providing a direct connection betweenthe western and eastern limits of St. John’s.The regional road system will be completewhen the East-West Arterial (Team GushueHighway Extension) links Kenmount Road toBrookfield Road at Commonwealth Avenue.While the City’s population increased byan estimated 3.3% over the past decade,the amount of roads for which the City isresponsible increased in length by 21% (from547 to 662 kilometres). The largest increase instreet length at 29% was in residential roads(from 340 to 438 kilometres). This representsa 14% decrease in the number of city residentsper kilometre of road, from 181 to 155. Withmore roads come increases in traffic volumeprompting the City in 2011 to introduce aTraffic Calming policy which will result inchanges to road layout in designing newsubdivisions.The population in the St. John’s CMA isforecast to grow in the decades ahead. The St.John’s Regional Water Supply Update (2007)concluded that the water supply system willmeet the demands placed on it until at least2056, using water conservation practices, andbringing Petty Harbour Long Pond back online with a new treatment system (the previoussystem was closed some years ago).Stormwater from rainfall and melting snowis managed through a system of storm sewerswhich collect water from roads, parkinglots and other impermeable surfaces such asrooftops and direct it into rivers and streams.To accommodate the increased urbanizationand higher frequency of heavy rainfalls andflash-flooding, the City has upgraded severalsystems, including storm sewers and roadbridges over rivers. Where there is no capacityto accommodate further stormwater runoff,new developments will rrequire storm-sewerupgrading or ; alternatively, the developercan retain the stormwater on site, using anunderground chamber or a surface pond,and then release the water slowly. This is apolicy of zero net increase in run-off. Otherways to manage stormwater may include“green” infrastructure such as tree plantings,green roofs (rooftop gardens), and permeablepavement.Over the past decade the City, with theneighbouring City of Mount Pearl and Townof Paradise, has implemented the St. John’sHarbour Cleanup Project with provincial andfederal funding support. Its major componentswere the construction of the Riverhead primarywastewater treatment plant on the SouthsideRoad, upgrading the sewage pumping stationon Harbour Drive at Beck’s Cove, and theconstruction of a Harbour Interceptor Sewerfrom Temperance Street to the treatment plant.Prior to this, sanitary sewage flowed untreatedinto St. John’s Harbour. This project wasoriginally budgeted at $94 million.Between 2000 and 2011, the total amountbudgeted for public services increased113%, from $105 to $224 million per year.The amount for transportation services(streets, roads and sidewalks, snowclearing,traffic services, street lighting, public transitand para-transit) increased by 79%, from$23.7 million to $42.5 million per year.Environmental health services (water andsewer services, garbage and waste collectionand disposal) increased by 240%, from $15.8million to $53.9 million and the amount forrecreational and cultural services increased127%, from $8.3 million to $18.9 millionper year. The increases reflect the growingpopulation, rising cost of services, andincreased responsibilities of the City.


11 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportPlanning Issues in St. John’sTransportationSt. John’s has an extensive road system toallow people to travel to all parts of the city.Aside from private vehicles, people also usepublic transit, walking or bicycling to movearound.A study in 2007 for the St. John’sTransportation Commission (Metrobus)identified some user dissatisfaction withtransit route coverage, travel time, andfrequency of service. The study (located at:http://www.metrobus.com/PDF/5year.pdf)recommended improvements for servicestandards such as route design, bus-stopspacing and bus shelters.The study observed that land-use planningshould be more supportive of public transitin terms of the location of subdivisions andthe placement of roads and high-densitydevelopment within subdivisions, and thatthe City’s parking standards and parkingmeterrates should be changed to makepublic transit more attractive. A reportreleased by the Commission in December2011 (Metrobus Market Assessment andStrategic Directions Study) attributed lowridership levels and problems with trafficcongestion and downtown parking to urbansprawl and suburbanization [www.metrobus.com/marketstudy]. Council’s Planning andHousing Standing Committee was recentlyexpanded to include a representative of theCommission.St. John’s Para-Transit is the City’stransportation alternative for people who areunable to use Metrobus, the conventionaltransit service. Para-Transit, recentlyrebranded as GoBus Accessible Transit,began as a community-based service. TheCity assumed direct responsibility for it in1997 and in 2012 contracted the delivery ofservice to MVT Canadian Bus Lines, whohave upgraded service with a fleet of 18 newbusses.


12 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportPlanning Issues in St. John’sPort of St. John’s and St. John’s International AirportThe Port of St. John’s supports the offshorefishery, interprovincial and internationalshipping, the offshore oil industry, themilitary (Royal Canadian Navy and othernavies), maritime training (HMCS Cabotand the Marine Institute), and tourism. Itslevel of economic activity has been growingover the past decade. However, there is littlespace for new industrial development aroundthe harbour. The physical growth limits aremitigated by the highway system whichprovides good links from harbours in BayBulls and Conception Bay South.The St. John’s International Airport hasbeen transformed over the past decade. Amajor redevelopment to expand the airterminal was completed in 2002. Passengermovements have grown by more than 80 percent since 1998, twice the national average.The Airport Authority administers two largeareas of vacant land: one off Portugal CoveRoad, west of the present road entrance tothe terminal building, which will becomethe new entrance in future; the other alongthe west side of Torbay Road, south ofRCAF Road. In 2007 the City prepared adevelopment plan for the Torbay Road NorthCommercial Area, which includes the airportland and other lands on both sides of TorbayRoad. The plan sets out road and otherimprovements to accommodate commercialand light industrial uses on 160 hectares ofland, north of the Clovelly big-box retailarea.


13 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportPlanning Issues in St. John’sRecreation and LeisureResidents of St. John’s enjoy a varietyof parks at the neighbourhood, city, andregional level. In addition to the historicBannerman, Victoria, and Bowring Parks andQuidi Vidi Lake Park which are owned bythe City, there is the provincial C. A. PippyPark and federal facilities at Signal Hilland Cape Spear National Historic Sites. Inaddition, there is the Grand Concourse – alinear park system developed by the JohnsonFamily Foundation and maintained by theCity and the Grand Concourse Authority –that connects different parts of St. John’s andextends into Mount Pearl and Paradise.In 2009 the City of St. John’s Recreation andParks Master Plan was adopted by Council(located at: http://www.stjohns.ca/pdfs/Recreation_And_Parks_Master_Plan.pdf). It takes into account long-termdemographic and leisure trends andthe demands for open space, parks andrecreation services and programming. Its 31recommendations included redevelopmentof Victoria and Bannerman Parks,rehabilitation or replacement of agingrecreation centres, phasing out ‘tot lots’, andhaving an integrated approach to includeneighbourhood parks and play areas in allnew developments.In 2008 the St. John’s Cycling Master Planwas prepared and adopted (located at: http://www.stjohns.ca/csj/cycling/FinalReport_Revised_February_10_2009.pdf). It setsout a plan for developing 226 kilometresof cycling lanes and trails connecting allareas of the city. This will provide increasedopportunities for alternative transportation,recreation, and reduction in the amount ofgreenhouse gases. The system will be builtout over the next 20 years.


14 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportDevelopment TrendsContinued Suburban DevelopmentThe City has provided major municipalinfrastructure to accommodate the newhousing near the edges of our municipalboundary. Substantial residentialdevelopments have been built and arecontinuing in the Southlands, the SouthwestExpansion Area along Kenmount Road,Kilbride, Clovelly, and Airport Heights.These new neighbourhoods are characterizedby single detached houses on standardbuilding lots (typically 15 metres by 30metres). Since 2010, the former SprungGreenhouse property off CommonwealthAvenue, Mount Pearl, has been redevelopedas the Brookfield Plains neighbourhood.Growth in Residential Condominium DevelopmentsSt. John’s has not seen a new rentalapartment building in 30 years (other thanone on Blackmarsh Road that burned andwas rebuilt in the early 2000s), but a numberof apartment-style buildings in condominiumownership have been built since 2003. Aswell, several existing rental buildings havebeen converted to condominium ownership.There has also been interest in developingcondominiums in the form of single housesand rowhouse clusters.Retirees and empty nesters are the targetmarket for many of these projects. Othersare geared towards affluent workingprofessionals. With many suitable sites inolder neighbourhoods already developed,condominium projects have startedappearing in neighbourhoods that wereoriginally developed in the 1960s and ‘70sfor predominantly single houses.


15 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportDevelopment TrendsThe EnvironmentThe natural setting of hills, ocean cliffs, rivers,lakes, and valleys is a defining feature of St.John’s. The extensive coastline includes CapeSpear, Signal Hill and Quidi Vidi. Forestedhills are visible in many places – the SouthsideHills which overlook St. John’s harbour; theWhite Hills from Quidi Vidi Village to RobinHood Bay; and Kenmount Hill. St. John’sharbour is sheltered from the Atlantic, and thecity rises up in the bowl formed by it.Newfoundland and Labrador has some of theoldest rocks in the world. This geology poseschallenges when it comes to construction. Thehilly terrain has shaped the street pattern andcreates natural development limits.Major rivers include the Waterford River,the Virginia River, Rennie’s River, ManuelsRiver, Kelligrews River, and the Outer CoveRiver systems. These are protected by theMunicipal Plan, which prohibits most typesof development and sets development buffers.The five drinking-water watersheds (Bay BullsBig Pond, Windsor Lake, Broad Cove River,Petty Harbour Long Pond, and Thomas Pondfor future supply) occupy more than a quarterof the total area of St. John’s.Parks and recreation lands – includingmunicipal, provincial and federal lands –occupy 3,947 hectares, approximately 8per cent of the area of the city. Productiveagricultural land is protected by theAgricultural designation of the Municipal Planand the provincially designated AgriculturalDevelopment Area (ADA). This land occupies13 per cent of the total area of St. John’s.Lands in the Forestry District and in theMineral Working Zone occupy approximately5 per cent of the area of the city.In 2006 the City adopted the St. John’sUrban Forest Management Master Plan.This identified and inventoried almost60,000 public trees (trees on City property,or on private property but overhanging Cityproperty such as sidewalks). Trees in nonmunicipalparks and in the city’s watershedswere not included. The plan recognizedthe value which the urban forest adds to thequality of urban life, and how trees preventerosion and absorb rainwater. It includedrecommendations on amendments to theMunicipal Plan and Development Regulationsto ensure the vitality of the urban forest.Local weather patterns have seen changesin the frequency and intensity of major rainand wind storm events that have affected theCity’s developed areas, particularly thosewhich are flood-prone. The St. John’s regionhas been experiencing milder winters withless average snowfall. Climate change hasproduced a need for major investment inbridges and storm sewers that can handle morerun-off.It will be necessary to keep in mind thelocation of land uses in relation to:• Protecting waterways, wetlands, naturalareas, and forested lands that provideanimal and plant habitats, foster healthyecosystems, and control the volume ofstormwater.• Rising sea level and extreme weatherevents.• Natural-resource extraction such asquarries and wood-cutting areas.Like many cities, growth in St. John’s sincethe mid-20th century has been away from theurban core, the result of low fuel costs and agood supply of cheap land. The costs of thispattern of development are becoming apparentas fuel prices rise and there is more traffic,longer travel times, and demand for new roadsand infrastructure.


16 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportDevelopment TrendsBrownfield Redevelopment and Adaptive Reuse“Greenfield areas” are lands where nothinghas been built yet. “Brownfield areas” arelands where something was built in the past,such as old warehouses or closed schools ordisused churches. Redeveloping brownfieldsites has become more common in St. John’s,like in many cities, where there are defunctor underutilized industrial, commercial, orinstitutional properties.Some properties have seen new commercialuse as retail stores and supermarkets – likethe former Memorial Stadium property(now a Dominion supermarket) on LakeAvenue and King’s Bridge Road, the formerNewfoundland Margarine Company siteon LeMarchant Road (now a ShoppersDrug Mart store), and the former TerraNova Motors car dealership on TopsailRoad (now a Lawtons drugstore). Otherproperties given new life as residentialbuildings include the former McKinlayMotors property on LeMarchant Road (nowa range of townhouse and a multi-storeybuilding), and the former St. Patrick’s HallSchool property on Bonaventure Avenueat Merrymeeting Road (now the PlaceBonaventure buildings).Some properties which are currently beingdeveloped include: the former StandardManufacturing paint plant between WaterStreet East and Duckworth Street East (nowThe Narrows building and the buildingbelow it); the former Belvedere Orphanageand Convent property along Margaret’s Placebetween Newtown Road and BonaventureAvenue; the former Woolworth’s DepartmentStore site (now being developed as amulti-storey office building and parkinggarage called 351 Water; and the formerHorwood Lumber Company site in the areaof Springdale Street, Hamilton Avenue andNew Gower Street (being developed byFortis Properties as a multi-storey officebuilding).Approval has been given to redevelop theformer Power’s Salvage premises at thecorner of Temperance and Water Streets andthe former CEI Club property on HamiltonAvenue at Shaw Street for residentialuse, but construction has not started. Anapplication to redevelop the Star of theSea Hall property on Henry Street for acondominium apartment building is underconsideration by Council. There is also anapplication to redevelop two properties onopposite sides of Duckworth Street in thearea of Ordinance Street and Hill o’ Chipsfor residential and hotel use.The conversion of the former St. Bride’sCollege/ Littledale Complex on WaterfordBridge Road to The Tower corporate officecomplex for the offshore oil industry isnearly complete. Major properties awaitingcommercial and/or residential redevelopmentinclude the former CBC Radio Buildingsite on Duckworth, Henry, and Bell Streetsand adjoining properties; the former AvalonTelephone Company building on DuckworthStreet at McBride’s Hill; the HollowaySchool site on Long’s Hill and Harvey Road;the Arcade Store site which has frontage onWater Street and Harbour Drive; the formerGrace General Hospital property whichoverlooks the harbour from LeMarchantRoad and Pleasant Street; a block of landwhich has frontage on Hamilton Avenue andJob Street; and another block with frontageon Springdale and New Gower Streets belowPleasant Street. The range of proposeduses for these properties includes officespace, hotels, condominiums, and parkingstructures.


17 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportDevelopment TrendsParking StandardsGoing back to the 1960s and ‘70s, thecommercial area of the Downtown declinedas some retail businesses closed theirpremises or relocated to shopping malls.This decline has been reversed in the pastdecade. In 2009, Council and DowntownSt. John’s (the Downtown DevelopmentCommission) engaged consultants toprepare a Downtown Parking Study withrecommendations on an adequate supply ofparking spaces, including how to manage theexisting spaces on-street and off-street, howto create new spaces, and how to reinforcepublic transit. The Downtown Parking Studyis in the process of being implemented.Elsewhere in St. John’s, with the rising priceof land, there have been occasional concernsexpressed about the application of parkingstandards, and about traffic congestion.


18 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportDevelopment TrendsCommercial Activityand Suburban Big-Box Stores (Power Centres)During the life of the current MunicipalPlan, significant commercial developmenthas occurred with big-box retail stores incommercial “power centres” on the fringesof the city – at Stavanger Drive off TorbayRoad (the Clovelly area) and Kelsey Driveoff Kenmount Road. Rather than being atthe centre of new residential developmentto serve the surrounding population, ashappened when Churchill Square wasdeveloped in the 1950s and ‘60s, the big-boxcommercial areas remain separate, accessiblemostly by private automobile rather than onfoot.Hotel DevelopmentThe hospitality and tourism sector inNewfoundland and Labrador has beengrowing. Hotel development in St. John’ssince 2003 has seen a Marriott Courtyardhotel on Duckworth Street, a Steele hotel(the Capital) on Kenmount Road, and aSuper 8 hotel on Higgins Line. Several hotelapplications have been approved but are notyet started: one is on Stavanger Drive; one(an extension to the Marriott Courtyard) ison the corner of Duckworth and CochraneSmaller supermarkets have been enlarged orclosed as food retailers moved to the big-boxconcept. The closure of small supermarketshas seen some properties converted to otheruses: the Summerville building on ElizabethAvenue West was redeveloped to a mixedusecommercial and residential development,with additional floors added. A supermarketon Hamilton Avenue at Shaw Street thatwas used for furniture sales was recentlyredeveloped as an office building. At theneighbourhood level, the closure of smallerstores requires people to travel longerdistances.Streets; one is at 123-125 Water Street at theintersection with Harbour Drive oppositePrescott Street; one, a Steele hotel, is nearthe St. John’s Convention Centre and MileOne Centre, bounded by Water, Princess,and Buchanan Streets and George StreetWest. There is an application to developa hotel at the corner of New Gower andSpringdale Streets. Lastly, there is theformer Traveller’s Inn motel on KenmountRoad which is being redeveloped for a hotel.


19 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportDevelopment TrendsGovernment Investment and DevelopmentsPublic-sector development in St. John’sby the municipal, provincial and federalgovernments has been extensive andsignificant over the past decade.The City of St. John’s and its partners (theProvince, Mount Pearl, and Paradise) haveredeveloped the Robin Hood Bay sanitarylandfill as a regional facility, built theRiverhead regional wastewater treatmentplant on the Southside Road, and made amajor improvement to public transit witha new Metrobus garage and administrationbuilding off Kenmount Road. The Cityhas contributed to revamping the LSPUHall (the Resource Centre for the Artstheatre) on Victoria Street, and the AnnaTempleton Centre for Craft, Art and Designin the historic Newfoundland Savings Bankproperty on Duckworth Street. Recently,the City committed to enlarge the St. John’sConvention Centre on New Gower Streetopposite the Mile One Centre.Building construction at MemorialUniversity’s St. John’s campus has beensignificant and ongoing as it continues togrow along the lines laid out in its 2007Campus Master Plan. The Health SciencesCentre which is part of the university hasbeen significantly enlarged following theaddition of the Janeway Children’s Hospital.Eastern Health has opened a large outpatientfacility and a nearby ambulance depot onMajor’s Path off Torbay Road.The Provincial Department of Educationbuilt l’École des Grands-Vents Frenchlanguageschool on Ridge Road, approvedplans to redevelop or replace several schoolsin the city, and committed to a new highschool in the West End which may startconstruction on Topsail Road in 2012.The province began construction in 2011of a seniors’ long-term-care facility on partof the former Janeway Hospital groundsoff Newfoundland Drive that will replacethe Hoyles-Escasoni Seniors’ Complexon Portugal Cove Road. The provincehas also developed The Rooms buildingwhich houses the Provincial Museum,Art Gallery and Archives; is enlarging theRoyal Newfoundland Constabulary policeheadquarters at Fort Townshend off ParadeStreet; will restore the historic ColonialBuilding on Military Road; and is expectedto decide soon on developing a new lawcourt complex in St. John’s.The Federal Government divested most ofits lands at Pleasantville off The Boulevard.The Canada Lands Company (CLC), afederal agency, prepared a comprehensiveredevelopment plan for a mixed-usedevelopment of several hundred residentialunits in various building types, somecommercial property, and ample green spacewith pedestrian links to Quidi Vidi Lake andthe Virginia River.At the same time, the Department ofNational Defence started the redevelopmentof Canadian Forces Station (CFS) St. John’s,a $100 million+ project that will consolidateall military uses at Pleasantville. Afterextensive consultation, a plan for all thefederal lands at Pleasantville, includingextensive rezonings, was approved byCouncil.Phased development is underway. Inthe early 2000s, the Federal Governmentpurchased one of the two Cabot Place officetowers on Barter’s Hill near New GowerStreet, bolstering the federal presenceDowntown.


20 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportDevelopment TrendsArts, Culture and HeritageSt. John’s has dynamic arts, cultureand heritage. It is the oldest Europeansettlement in North America (founded onJune 24, 1497, and settled by the early1500s), the capital of Newfoundlandand Labrador, and a centre of business,education, and government. It has servedas an international seaport, military outpost,and gateway to the New World. Its age isreflected in the narrow winding streets andthe architecture of buildings Downtown.In 1977, St. John’s was one of the firstCanadian cities to designate a HeritageArea. St. John’s was the Cultural Capital ofCanada for 2006.Some of the historic and cultural assetsinclude Cabot Tower, the signature buildingof St. John’s and of the province, atopSignal Hill; the Colinial Building, formerseat of government; the LSPU Hall (homeof the Resource Centre for the Arts theatreand art gallery); the Anna TempletonCentre for Craft, Art and Design; the St.John’s Arts and Culture Centre; the RomanCatholic Basilica of St. John the Baptist(of Romanesque design); the AnglicanCathedral of St. John the Baptist (of Neo-Gothic design); St. Thomas’ (the OldGarrison Church); the Murray Premises;Devon House (home of the Craft Councilof Newfoundland and Labrador); and theNewfoundland National War Memorial.The City supports the cultural communitywith its Art Procurement program andCivic Art Collection; Arts Grants; Muralsprogram; the honorary position of PoetLaureate; the Arts Advisory Committee; andthe St. John’s Municipal Arts Plan, adoptedin 2010. That same year, the City spent over$1 million in support of the arts.The 2003 Municipal Plan seeks to conservethe character of heritage areas and protectheritage buildings. The City’s HeritageAdvisory Committee advises Council onheritage matters, including the designationof buildings as heritage buildings, proposedchanges to the exterior of designatedbuildings, and new construction orredevelopment in heritage areas. TheDevelopment Regulations list 130designated heritage buildings. City planningpolicies encourage the adaptive re-use ofheritage properties so that they remaineconomically viable.Complementing the Municipal Planand Development Regulations are theDowntown St. John’s Strategy forEconomic Development and HeritagePreservation, 2001, an economicdevelopmentand preservation plan, thefollow-up report on St. John’s HeritageAreas, Heritage Buildings and PublicViews in 2003, the Battery DevelopmentGuidelines Study, 2004, and the GeorgeStreet Redevelopment Study, 2007. A recentreport for the City recommends extendingthe Battery development guidelines for nonresidentialproperties in that neighbourhood.


21 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportThe Way ForwardPatterns of DevelopmentThe concluding sections discuss some of the future directions that the City can take over the coming 10 years.Until the middle of the 20th century, St.John’s was fairly compact. The olderareas around the harbour and as far northas Empire Avenue were reasonably highdensity. The Downtown business districtwas within walking distance for manypeople.After World War II and Confederationwith Canada, St. John’s began to seelower density growth in the new ChurchillPark area (originally called the NorthernSuburb) along the length of the newElizabeth Avenue. Most new homeswere single family houses, and travelto the Downtown was no longer withinwalking distance. The automobile beganto dominate development. This lowerdensity development responded to severalfactors, such as less expensive land and apreference for larger lots. There was littlepressure for infill development (where leftoverland in older neighbourhoods is builton).The trend for large lots remains today,but there is a parallel trend towardsomewhat higher densities, especially inolder neighbourhoods. This is the resultof increased land costs and changinghousehold preferences. Lots are a bitsmaller in some areas, and there are moremulti-unit buildings. Interestingly, thisresembles the way cities were built in thepast.Urban design refers to the physical look ofthe city. It considers street layouts (narrowor wide), housing density (single housesor multi-storey buildings), sidewalks andpublic spaces, building setbacks (close tothe street or set back further), parking areas(visible from the street or behind or beneatha building), footpaths (can a pedestriantake a shortcut to another neighbourhoodwithout having to walk a long way around),and similar matters. Good urban design canhelp ensure that all neighbourhoods, evendense ones, are pleasant and welcoming.Committing to a more compact city,with higher overall densities, has severalimplications:• More housing Downtown and in olderneighbourhoods elsewhere;• More multi-unit buildings, often incondominium ownership;• Infill development on left-over lands;• More housing choices in newneighbourhoods;• Increased viability of public transitand alternative forms of transportation;• Potentially reduced cost of housing;• More efficient provision of municipalservices and utilities;• Need for improvements for municipalservices and utilities in older areas; and• Increased traffic in some areas.The overall density and form of a cityare determined over time through acombination of land-use policy, consumerand market preferences, and consultationwith local residents. One goal of theMunicipal Plan review is to understand thedirection that St. John’s should take forresidential densities.


22 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportThe Way ForwardDevelopment in Rural AreasRural land uses are an important part of St.John’s, particularly for farming in the Gouldsand elsewhere. The City’s AgricultureDistrict is the same as the Province’sAgricultural Development Area (ADA),which protects and reserves farmland. Asidefrom farming, there are many people wholive on large lots in rural areas, as well assome businesses that favour a rural locationfor their work.The cost of providing municipal servicessuch as roads, garbage collection andrecycling, fire protection, water and sewersystems, and public transit is related to thepattern of development. The more spreadoutthe development pattern is, the higher thecost to deliver these services.Many rural residential areas in St. John’swere developed using on-site water (wells)and on-site sewage disposal (septic systems)prior to the 1992 amalgamation of theGoulds and other rural areas. To containurban sprawl and deliver municipal servicesefficiently, the City has adopted rural policiesto allow limited residential infill (newhouses) as long as they are on existing roads.From time to time over the past decade, theCity has been asked to vary this policy andallow new roads in unserviced rural areas.To date, the approach has been to channelnew development into areas that are alreadyserviced or can be serviced with municipalwater and sewage, rather than allow newroads to be built in unserviced areas.


23 St. John’s Municipal Plan Review 2012: Background ReportThe Way ForwardDevelopment Potential Above the 190-Metre ContourIn St. John’s and the surrounding region,the regional trunk sewers were designed inthe 1970s to service land up to 190 metresabove sea level. This included a wide areabut excluded some of the highest hills. Theregional water system was then designed tosupply water to that elevation and no higher(in Airport Heights, the servicing limit is 185metres, and in Kilbride it is 130 metres).In 2007, Council’s Planning and HousingCommittee and Public Works andEnvironment Committee reviewed a reportregarding potential municipal servicingabove the 190-metre contour for theGoulds Infrastructure ImprovementsWhen the former Town of the Goulds wasamalgamated with the City of St. John’sin 1992, there were major deficiencies inthe municipal water and sewer systems.Repairs and new construction have beenongoing since that time. On each streetwhere work was carried out to improve theunderground infrastructure, the streets werealso reconstructed at the same time.In recent years, the City commissionedan update to a 2002 study for the majorcomponents of the water and sewagesystems with a service area of 665.8Land-Use Choices and Fiscal ImpactsGrowth is often the sign of a vibrant city, butthere are limits to growth. For some typesof development, the long-term costs mayoutweigh the benefits. The impacts of landusedecisions are significant and long-lasting.The fiscal impacts of development dependSouthlands area and for the SouthwestDevelopment Area between Kenmount andThorburn Roads. A significant amount ofland in these two areas could be developedwith municipal water and sewage. Theselands would need to be redesignated andrezoned for development. The Regional Planfor the St. John’s Urban Region would alsohave to be amended.In May 2011, Council wrote the Minister ofMunicipal Affairs to request a Regional Planamendment to allow development above the190-metre contour. The amendment is nowunder consideration for possible approval.hectares. The update, completed in 2010,concluded that improvements wouldrequire a 2.2-kilometre-long extension tothe Kilbride trunk sewer, a wastewaterpump station and a 4.2-kilometre-longsewer main; a water reservoir and newwater transmission mains; construction orreplacement of several bridges; and theupgrading of several roads.With the work being spread over sevenconsecutive years, the updated studyestimated the work will cost of $51.7million. The report is still being studied.on the type of development and the abilityof existing municipal infrastructure andservices to accommodate it. Developmentthat increases the tax base without increasingdemands for services can have positiveimpacts. The key is to seek out those typesof development.

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