A 10-metre high propane tank slated for the St. John's harbour apron is necessary to protect jobs and millions of dollars in private investments, say some city councillors.  

"I thought he said it was going to employ over 200 people in that particular complex," said Ward 3 councillor Bruce Tilley. "That enhances the downtown right away."

On Monday, the council approved the construction of the tank, to be placed near two large restaurants under construction and just to the west of the existing Keg restaurant.

However, the tank was not included in the developer's initial application to build the two new restaurants.

The city's planning committee said the tank can't go on its side and if the restaurants continue to use smaller tanks, there will be 30 propane tanks scattered around the buildings.

"At the end of the day this is a working port employing thousands and thousands of people. This project," said councillor Art Puddister, "is [worth] $11 million private money."

Developers had no idea large tank was required

Meanwhile, Leo Power, one of the businessmen involved in the development, said he had no idea the harbourfront restaurant complex would need a 10-metre tall propane tank when he first proposed it.

Power said approvals are a long process, and decisions can only be made as the development proceeds.

"The original proposal for the building permit did not have the propane tank permit because you go through various permitting processes," said Power.

"So we had no idea when we designed this building that the ultimate solution, the optimal solution would be a 5,000 gallon tank."

Power said the volume of propane needed for all three restaurants would require the large tank. He added that he investigated other options, but they would not meet national building codes. 

However, he says he'll follow the city's directive to plant trees around the tank, which will be situated just west of The Keg, and hire an artist to paint it.

'Not perfect,' says Breen 

"There are other methods being used to screen it besides trees," said Ward 1 Coun. Danny Breen. "And look, it's not perfect. Look, nobody wants to have a propane tank there."

Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Galgay, who voted against the tank, said Monday's vote set a dangerous precedent.

"If you're going to be dealing with the city you need to come in at the initial stage of your development with the exact plans," said Galgay.

"So that we can make a decision based on the merit of the submission."

Galgay said he wants the council to do a better job in the future of considering all impacts of building projects before issuing permits.