Rookie St. John's councillor Jonathan Galgay has ruffled the feathers of some colleagues with an accusation that approval of parking exemption for a restaurant in a heritage building has caused significant problems in Quidi Vidi Village.
But the co-owner of Mallard Cottage, which opened last fall as a restaurant after an extension renovation, disputes Galgay's key claims, particularly that the police have had to be called to deal with parking issues at his business.
The last council approved development of Mallard Cottage into a restaurant, but waived a requirement that any new business provide a parking space for every five square metres of seating.More than two spaces would have been necessary.
The city waived the requirement on the grounds the building is a heritage site and there is additional parking at the Plantation nearby.
The building is on a narrow lane that winds through Quidi Vidi Village, an enclave in the east end of St. John's.
Galgay told Monday evening's council meeting that some residents of the area have complained to him about their personal parking spaces being used by restaurant patrons, sometimes for as much as 24 hours.
"It has come down to residents being verbally abused. The RNC have been involved in this issue and it's only getting more problematic," Galgay told the meeting.
"In my opinion, Your Worship, the previous council exercised poor judgment, in my personal opinion," said Galgay.
He added that the provision of parking at the nearby city-owned Quidi Vidi Plantation has meant that people heading there can sometimes not access the grounds.
Mayor Dennis O'Keefe dismissed Galgay's comments.
"I'll give you a fight on that," O'Keefe said.
Coun. Tom Hann also took umbrage with Galgay's remarks, and said the 2012 decision to waive the parking requirement was necessary in order to protect Mallard Cottage, which was built between 1820 and 1840.
The owners of the newly opened restaurant restored the original structure, and added an extension to serve guests.
"I resent the intimation that the previous council made a mistake," Hann said.
"The previous council made the decision that it did to save Mallard Cottage, and to make sure that it had adaptable use. If we hadn't made that decision, nobody knows what would happened to the future of one of the oldest buildings in the province."
Never contacted by Galgay: co-owner
Todd Perrin, the head chef and a co-owner at Mallard Cottage, said not only has he never heard of the police being called in to handle parking problems connected to his restaurant, he has never heard from Galgay either.
"I'm not aware of any RNC involvement. That's the first I've heard about it," Perrin told the St. John's Morning Show on Tuesday.
As for learning that Galgay's complaints at Monday's council meeting, Perrin added, "That's the disappointing thing. I'm not disputing that there's an issue that we need to deal with, but it's very disappointing that this is how this happens."
Perrin, who also lives in Quidi Vidi Village, said a couple of neighbours have spoken to him about their concerns about on-street parking, but not about parking in residential driveways. He added "another business in our area [was] having issues with people parking in their driveway."
Galgay said he has no problem with the new restaurant but he said council should have addressed the area's parking issue before it was allowed to open.
Galgay said he would be meeting on Tuesday with residents of the area to discuss their concerns.
Perrin said he knew nothing about the meeting Galgay is organizing until told about it by CBC on Tuesday morning.