St. John's expansion plans meet with approval
Council urged to eliminate ban on development in higher elevations
Little opposition was voiced at a St. John's public hearing Tuesday night on opening up two massive blocks of land to development.
The city would like to rezone two areas of the city: one, near Southlands, is owned by former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams, while the other is off Kenmount Road, near the Kelsey Drive commercial district.
Most of those who attended a hearing at St. John's city hall spoke in favour of the rezoning, which if approved will trigger enormous development that will take many years to complete.
Kevin King, president of the real estate company KMK Capital, said there is already significant interest among retailers in the Southlands area, which is still being developed.
"They want to be in proximity to a dense population, other major retailers and major arterial roads," King said.
"We have been seeking locations for our retailers in the west for years and they are very excited about the Southlands development."
The St. John's Board of Trade strongly endorses the proposed rezoning.
"[We] would like to see the ban on development above the 190-metre contour lifted," said board chair Steve Power, referring to a prohibition on land in higher elevations.
Until recently, St. John's was physically unable to pump water to such heights.
Some residents, though, expressed concerns. Sam Bromley would like to see a balance that preserves some land.
"Things are going to sell anyway … maybe we can preserve a small strip of trees at the top," he said.
Kimberly Yetman Dawson, a director with the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and Homelessness Network, said she would like to see affordable housing named as a priority in future developments.
"We know there is a very low vacancy right here and we need to think about the future," she said.
Commissioner Chris Sharpe is expected to release his report on the rezoning proposal in 30 days.