Tuesday evening’s public meeting at the Quidi Vidi Plantation allowed residents to share their frustrations and point to parking solutions for the area
The meeting was held almost a week after Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Galgay brought to council’s attention the concerns of Quidi Vidi residents who felt it was a poor decision to allow the restaurant Mallard Cottage to open with only two parking spaces. As a heritage property, Mallard Cottage was given a parking exemption and told overflow parking at the city-owned Quidi Vidi Plantation would suffice.
Galgay hosted Tuesday’s meeting with Judy Ryerson, chairwoman of the Quidi Vidi Village Foundation. Approximately 50 people attended, including chef Todd Perrin, one of the co-owners of Mallard Cottage.
Multiple residents recalled situations where Mallard Cottage customers have either used their private parking spaces or asked to use them. Anne Barnes, a resident who lives next to the Plantation building, said people have offered her money in exchange for her parking spot in front of her home.
Barnes has encountered customers who have made rude gestures towards her after being informed they couldn’t park in front of her home.
Multiple residents also spoke of trying to have vehicles towed for being illegally parked. However, tow-truck operators have been reluctant to do that. Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Sgt. Joe Boland said residents can call police, who will investigate and issue a ticket for the vehicle. Galgay said the City of St. John’s has no legal or enforcement authority on such matters.
Perrin, who was one of the last people to speak during the hour-long meeting, said he could appreciate the concerns expressed about parking. As a resident of the area for 10 years, Perrin said parking in Quidi Vidi has always been a matter worth discussing, He admitted his restaurant has increased demand for parking spaces.
“We’ve had tables of four show up with two vehicles,” Perrin said. “So you know, it’s a constant battle.”
As a business, Perrin said Mallard Cottage has done as well as it can with respect to parking. An arrangement was made with a land owner to secure additional parking spaces along the waterfront.
“I’ll take my lumps if I need to take them, but I’m not going to apologize for what we’ve done over at Mallard Cottage, and I don’t think anybody should expect me to,” he said. “We followed all the rules that we needed to follow. We followed the procedure, we did what we could, and we did it the right way, and we opened a restaurant that we’re very proud of. We helped save a building that we’re also very proud of, and I hope that everyone else can be proud of it too here in the village.”
Perrin and others spoke of the need to create additional parking spaces. He noted that the Quidi Vidi Development Plan from 2006 identified 10 areas where additional parking spaces could be created. According to Perrin, only two of those areas now provide places to park — the infilled area beside Quidi Vidi Brewery and the Plantation.
“There’s a bunch of areas that have been identified, and it’s something that’s long past due,” said Perrin.
While Perrin said he was not prepared to apologize for the situation, at least two people at the meeting suggested he should do so. However, several others who spoke specifically stated there grievances were not with the business itself, but with how the City of St. John’s has handled the parking portfolio in Quidi Vidi.