Mayor supports dropping public landHeyck says there has been no progress on issue during time on council
Northern News Services
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Mayor Mark Heyck has suggested it may be best for the city to get rid of public land along the western edge of Latham Island where a proposed dock licensing system has been fiercely opposed by residents.
Mayor Mark Heyck suggests getting rid of land in an area where the city is considering a dock licensing plan. -
Coun. Niels Konge first brought up the idea that the city sever leases for land between the waterfront and Morrison Drive homes during a municipal services committee meeting Nov. 7 discussing what questions still need to be answered about the dock plan.
There have also been suggestions to build trails or other means to give public access to the waterfront.
Konge suggested returning to how things were in the area 40 years ago, an idea that drew applause from those in the public gallery last week.
Heyck later picked up on Konge's suggestion, saying he was "intrigued." How to deal with that area has arisen multiple times during his time on council without resolution, he said.
Heyck suggested the city maintain its hold on the parks at the end of Lessard Drive and Otto Drive but return property in between to the GNWT. That would leave it to area property owners to approach the GNWT to secure leases.
"This has, I think, taken up too much of the residents' time, too much of council's time," Heyck said. "Frankly, even the most optimistic side of me doesn't see this advancing very quickly, if ever, so I think it's time to take an alternative approach," he added, drawing applause from residents of the area at the meeting.
The mayor was not present when the issue moved ahead to city council on Monday evening.
The dock licensing concept was opposed by a number of people who wrote e-mails to council and who spoke during meetings, including Morrison Drive resident Jonny Covello.
"I don't think there should be a formal arrangement of docks and insurance and all the other things that are being proposed," she told council last week at the committee meeting.
"It's too cumbersome, it's too expensive and the city shouldn't be in the docking business."
This week Covello said during a presentation she felt councillors had been listening to resident concerns.
She called various ideas about what to do with the stretch "ludicrous" and "crazy."
"Now I think we're finally going to get past that and stop wasting our time and come up with something that seems like a good solution for the area," she said.
At Monday's council meeting, Coun. Shauna Morgan proposed an amendment to change the phrasing of the motion council was set to vote on, suggesting the focus be on balancing public and private use of the area.
While the amendment ultimately failed, it did prompt comments from the city's director of planning and development Jeff Humble. He said staff have to take "baby steps" on the issue.
"Every time we try to take a step and interrupt what council wants, we're sent back to the drawing board," he said, pointing out the dock licensing program was born from a recommendation made by the previous city council.
Konge said he'd oppose having city staff continue to work on researching the dock issue.
"I don't think I need to waste my time talking about dock licensing for that area," Konge said.
He was the lone vote against the motion, with five other councillors voting in favour.
It's not clear when the report answering the questions raised will return for consideration.