Committee asks City of St. John's to purchase property, city declines
The province is accepting proposals from developers interested in purchasing the Quidi Vidi Slipway, and its drawing the ire of some St. John’s residents.
Randy Walsh with the Quidi Vidi Village Slipway Committee says the committee is interested in keeping what the village has, “not close our eyes and open them to find out it is GONE,” he wrote in an email to St. John’s city council, The Telegram, and others.
Walsh appealed to the city to purchase the slipway, suggesting city ownership might help alleviate parking concerns in the area by creating “space for a proper and safe turnaround for traffic, while maintaining the water access” for the public via the slipway.
The slipway is located at Maple View Place in Quidi Vidi village, an area that sees plenty of traffic with visitors to the adjacent Quidi Vidi Village Plantation, nearby eateries, and hiking trails.
“The residents were here first, they feel like the businesses are trying to drive them out of their own homes. In fact, another family is giving up and is moving out because of businesses driving on and parking on their private property!” he wrote.
“The residents were here first, they feel like the businesses are trying to drive them out of their own homes." — Randy Walsh, Quidi Vidi resident
Mandatory criteria outlined in the expressions of interest (EOI) document says developers must allow for the free, unrestricted public access and use of the slipway, and must maintain the slipway mouth at its current width of approximately seven meters.
Mayor Danny Breen told The Telegram the city does not have experience dealing with slipways and is not interested in purchasing it.
“In this particular case, our only real interest in the slipway would be to ensure that public access is maintained, but since that is covered off in the RFP – and it’s actually one of the mandatory criteria – then there would be no need for the city to become involved in owning a slipway.”
Breen acknowledged the city does own ocean access on the other side of the Plantation, but that it was not something the city “went looking for.” He said the city was negotiating for a land transfer and the ocean access was included in that transfer.
To his knowledge, Breen said the city does not own any other such infrastructure near the ocean.
“We have no fisheries department. You know, it could cause some issues for us because we don’t have any enforcement of the slipway per se, right? We don’t have people that are trained in that manner, so if you have – I don’t know what could occur there – but if there were things occurring there, then we wouldn’t have the ability to deal with those.”
Breen said the city’s traffic engineer reviewed the idea of building a turnaround at Maple View Place as suggested by Walsh.
“It’s my understanding that it’s not feasible to do that, but traffic in Quidi Vidi village is a major concern for the city, and we’re continuing to work on ways that we can alleviate that traffic congestion and parking congestion down there.”
For example, Breen said the city built a parking lot on Cadet Road.
The Telegram asked a spokesperson with the province’s Department of Transportation and Works why the province is looking to offload the slipway property.
“The Quidi Vidi slipway is a surplus property to government. It is currently going through the disposal process,” reads the emailed response.
Follow-up questions about what deems provincial property ‘surplus’ and what is involved in the ‘disposal process’ could not be answered by press deadline.
According to the EOI document, proposals for the future use of the slipway will be evaluated based on:
- Financial viability – demonstrating the ability to successfully maintain the slipway, as well as the proposed use of the property.
- Proposed use of property – demonstrating a positive local impact to stakeholders in the area, and demonstrating how the proposed plan will benefit the local community.
- Proposed purchase price.
The document says any environmental remediation would be the responsibility of the prospective developer. As well, any proposals requiring government funding will not be evaluated.
Developers are also asked to include information about whether the proposal requires alterations to the land or structure, including details of all proposed changes.
The closing date for proposals is Nov. 6.
The slipway was originally expropriated by the province in 1974 to ensure the property be used to assist in fishing operations only, and to provide the public with free access to Quidi Vidi Harbour via the boat launch.