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THE CITY OF MOUNT PEARL

1950 - Present

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The City Of Mount Pearl

The incorporation of the town Mount Pearl Park-Glendale was an important step for the growth of the community. According to the 1956 census, the population of the area had grown to just under two thousand people, most of which had moved there since 1950. Concerned with the outcome of this rapid development, the citizens formed a town council in 1955 to control further housing development and improve services in the town. Mount Pearl}

From Cottage Country to Suburban Disorder

In the late 1950s, Mount Pearl Park-Glendale had very few public buildings or public spaces. There was one amalgamated school within the town's boundaries on Park Avenue and a Roman Catholic school (called Mary Queen of the World) on the border of the town on Topsail Road. There were four churches in the town, in addition to the Roman Catholic church bordering the town. Two Post Offices serviced the area and there was a small town hall used for meetings and recreational purposes. The majority of the businesses of the area were scattered along Park Avenue, which included a few small corner stores and several garages.

Although 65 percent of the town's land had not yet been developed in 1958, the newly formed council had several issues that needed immediate attention before further development was undertaken. The contamination of well water by septic systems was the most serious of these problems, caused by scattered, unplanned development on Park Avenue. The 1958 Municipal Plan highly recommended that development in the area should be slowed until public water and sewage was installed. In addition to this, the Municipal Plan recommended that taxes be increased to pay for the high cost of the project.

Lack of road organization and lack of any industry in the area also caused problems in the town. The roads that branched off Park Avenue were all dead-end streets. In Glendale, roads were built in a grid pattern, but were laid without any consideration of the hilly topography of the land. The layout of both areas posed many problems with the installation of sewage services and the unpaved, dead-end roads posed problems for future development.

Planning and Community Improvement

Fortunately, in 1958 the town council consulted the Provincial Government's Department of Municipal Affairs and Supply and created a plan for future development in the town. The plan recommended that water and sewage systems should be installed immediately and new roads should be built to join up the dead-end streets. The area needed a new school and public land where a new post office, bank, and public utility branch could be set up. The plan also recommended that the town should set aside land for future industrial development. The planning area included Mount Pearl's town boundaries as well as an area extending as far as Octagon Pond in Paradise.

It is interesting to note that the 1958 Municipal Plan assumed that the town of Mount Pearl Park-Glendale would eventually amalgamate with St. John's. St. John's, however, expressed no interest in absorbing Mount Pearl.

house construction House Construction on Park Avenue in 1956

The town was successful with improving its services. By 1965, most of the 779 homes in the area were provided with water and sewer. A few years later, in 1969, the planning area of Mount Pearl was limited only to its boundaries. Planning in the other areas was governed by Metro Board, a governing body that was formed to control rapid urban sprawl on the Northeast Avalon.

Public buildings also gained more attention in the 1960s. Mount Pearl ad outgrown its existing schools, and in 1963 Morris Academy was built in Glendale. The land from that building had been donated by Roland Morris' family, Morris being the previous owner and developer of Glendale.

The following table outlines schools and churches in the area up to 2005:

CHURCH NAME DATE OPENED
Nazarene Church 1950s (closed in 2004)
Anglican Church of Ascension 1953, 1956, 1983
First United Church 1953,1956,1961
Pentecostal Church 1950s, 1979
Mary Queen of the World 1956
St. Peter's Church 2002
Solid Rock Wesleyan Church 2004 (moved into former Nazarene Church building)
Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses
Mount Pearl Citadel (Salvation Army)

SCHOOL NAME DATE OPENED
Park Avenue School late 1940s or early 1950s
Mary Queen of the World 1956
Morris Academy 1963
Newtown Elementary 1977, 1981
St. Peter's Elementary 1983
O'Donel High 1985
St. Peter's Junior High c.1985
Mount Pearl Intermediate
Mount Pearl Senior High 1987

In addition to the construction of schools, the town also built a centralized shopping centre between Park Avenue and Centennial Street. Prior to the building of this centre, residents had to go to St. John's to do most of their food shopping. With the water and sewage system problems sorted out and the construction of more public buildings, the community of Mount Pearl enjoyed sustainable growth throughout the 1970s.

The Birth of a City

With these new lands, Mount Pearl town council proceeded with further development, but this time they planned for the construction of green spaces, walking trails, separate commercial areas, and recreation facilities. Donovans became a thriving industrial park. Newfoundland & Labrador Housing had offices in the dismantled Wireless Station buildings since 1973, but construction did not really take off until the 1980s.

By 1986, the population of the town had grown to 20 293. In 1988, the town had been granted city status, becoming Newfoundland's third city. Mount Pearl had another problem, however, shortly after it became a city. The Provincial Government released its Amalgamation Proposal: Northeast Avalon Peninsula, calling for the reduction of the number of municipalities in the area. The Provincial Government argued that a reduced number of municipalities in the area would allow tax dollars to be more efficiently distributed.Under amalgamation, Mount Pearl would have been annexed by St. John's. Mount Pearl did not want to give up its newly found autonomy, and vehemently opposed amalgamation. The result was that in 1991 St John's amalgamated with the Goulds and also gained Southlands, undeveloped land that was originally given to Mount Pearl as part of the 1982 reorganization.

In 2005, the City of Mount Pearl continues to grow. The city now has significant recreational areas, including a stadium, track and field centre, swimming pool, and a museum. There is an abundance of open green space and a system of walking trails linking the entire community. The large commercial shopping area off Old Placentia Road allows Mount Pearl to be self sufficient and has brought more prosperity to the city. The theme of sustainable growth remains to be a major part of city planning. The city has recently begun several heritage initiatives as well, taking on projects such as registering historic places and gathering oral histories from older members in the community. This newfound appreciation of Mount Pearl's history will be a valuable resource for years to come.

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