Café opponents parking up the wrong tree

City approves application, says café will attract mostly foot traffic

Daniel MacEachern
Published on July 28, 2014

Parking problems are brewing in Georgestown, say residents opposed to a proposed café, but St. John’s city council gave the application the go-ahead Monday night.

Council approved an application to change 73 Hayward Ave. from an art gallery to a café, a project supported by a majority of submissions at a public meeting earlier this month.

But the future café has its share of opponents, like Patrick Hanlon, who says the area has enough trouble with parking as it is without adding more traffic. He said the popularity of the nearby Georgestown Bakery made the problem worse, and he says the café will do the same, despite the city’s position that most of the café’s customers will be on foot.

“When that was started off, we were told it was supposed to be a ‘walk-to’ bakery, much like this is a ‘walk-to’ café,” he said. “But we’ve known how it’s blossomed into a citywide phenomenon.”

City regulations would require four parking spots for the café’s 20 square metres of seating area, but there’s only one on site. A city report says the additional parking can be found along Hayward Avenue and in Century Park. But Hanlon warned people will park illegally.

Applicant Stephanie Stoker, who also lives in the area, said an unfortunate reality of living downtown is a lack of parking.

“If you’re putting a business there, you have the potential to cause an effect. That happens with everything,” she said, adding that businesses such as hers can help alleviate congestion in a neighbourhood by providing a service to residents. She added that with all the other coffee shops in St. John’s, there’s little reason to think the café will draw much traffic to the neighbourhood.

“It’s a community café. People are walking to it, they’re riding their bike to it,” she said. “There’s no reason for anyone in the rest of the city to go out of their way in their car to come to our establishment. You can buy coffee all over the city. There’s no need to come to this specific one unless you’re walking in the area.”

The city report on the application from Dave Wadden, acting director of planning and development, also recommended increasing monitoring of the parking in the area of the bakery.