Mel Boutilier packs up at Parker Street, sparking protest
86-year-old volunteer vows to start new food bank
A man who ran a food and furniture bank in Halifax for the past 31 years packed up his desk on Friday, attracting protesters who are upset with how it ended.
Mel Boutilier started the Parker Street Food and Furniture bank in north-end Halifax in 1983. He was the volunteer executive director of the organization.
He took a leave of absence in 2013 after having his sixth hip replacement.
On Friday he said goodbye and took a few calls from old clients.
"I'm not feeling very happy. I'm hurting," he said.
The 86 year old announced his resignation 10 days ago. He says he was pushed out by new management.
As he packed his office, protesters outside, like Frank Willis and Helen Williams, said he should be shown more respect.
"I'm protesting because these people are trying to push Mel aside and take something from him that he created himself, that nobody had no interest to give him a hand with it in the first place," said Willis.
"We're trying to bring Mel back so that he can retire with his respect and dignity and he can put his place back the way it used to be," said Williams.
Board 'deeply sorry' for hurt feelings
Humphrey Longard, a board member and volunteer since 1983, said Parker Street was "deeply sorry Mel's feelings have been hurt by recent events."
Longard said Boutilier's passion was the reason Parker Street has been able to help so many people. The succession planning started two years ago to ensure the organization can continue its work.
"Mel and I have been friends since we were boys. I've been happy and proud to support him for 31 years at Parker Street," Longard said. "I have personally apologized to him multiple times. We want to make sure Parker Street is around for another 30 years."
Boutilier says he has no plans to retire.
He says going to start from scratch and open a new food bank of his own.