Galgay, councillors argue over Quidi Vidi parking

Mallard Cottage owner counters councillor who says restaurant should have more parking

Daniel MacEachern dmaceachern@thetelegram.com
Published on February 25, 2014
Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Galgay speaks at Monday’s
St. John’s city council meeting.
— Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

A St. John’s chef says he’s not aware of any parking problems around his Quidi Vidi restaurant — and he wishes a city councillor had spoken to him before raising the issue at Monday’s meeting.

Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Galgay said Monday at city council’s regular meeting that the previous administration displayed “poor judgment” when it allowed Mallard Cottage to open with just two parking spaces, fewer than a restaurant of its size would normally require.

“This issue now has escalated into patrons of the Mallard Cottage parking in private, residential driveways, leaving them there for up to 24 hours at a time,” he said. “It’s restricting the public from accessing the Quidi Vidi Village plantation. It’s having an impact on other businesses in the area.”

Galgay, who said he’s meeting today with Quidi Vidi residents, said they’re being “verbally abused” and that the RNC has been involved.

“The previous council exercised poor judgment, in my personal opinion,” said Galgay.

Many of those who were members of the previous council bristled at Galgay’s accusation.

“I’ll give you a fight on that,” said Mayor Dennis O’Keefe.

Coun. Tom Hann said council at the time allowed the parking exemption to save a historic building that was being restored by the proprietors.

“I resent the intimation that the previous council made a mistake,” he said. “If we hadn’t made that decision, nobody knows what would happen to the future of one of the oldest buildings in the province.”

Mallard Cottage owner and head chef Todd Perrin said Monday night he hasn’t heard of residents having a problem with his customers.

“We haven’t had any significant conversations with any of the local residents about parking issues,” said Perrin.

He added that the owner of a pub across from Mallard Cottage has spoken to him a couple of times about restaurant patrons parking in the pub parking lot, but other than that he hasn’t heard of any residents having problems, and he wishes Galgay had spoken to him before bringing it up at the meeting.

“He didn’t say anything to us. I haven’t spoken to Coun. Galgay about this at all, so it was a bit of a surprise to me to hear that it was being bandied about in council chambers without him speaking to us about it, at least to get our take on the situation, just as you’re doing,” said Perrin, who pointed out he’s not just the owner of a business in Quidi Vidi Village, but a resident as well. “I have to say I’m a bit disappointed in that. We’ve tried to do what we can to mitigate the parking situation down there. We don’t have a parking lot, and frankly I’m a believer that the last thing that Quidi Vidi Village needs is a big parking lot down in the middle of it.

Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth said the priority should be to determine if there is a problem with parking — and if so, how extensive it is — and not point fingers at previous administrations.

Coun. Danny Breen suggested city staff study the area.

O’Keefe told The Telegram Galgay should have checked with city staff about the problem before criticizing the previous council.

“If there is an issue revolving around parking, what we need to do first is find out, one, if there is a serious issue; two, if there is, how extensive is it; and three, once we know that, then we can deal with it sensibly and properly.”

 

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel