Parking lot pitch striking out with Manor Park residents
OCDSB proposing 61-spot lot where ball diamond currently sits
A pitch to turn part of the Manor Park Public School yard into a parking lot is striking out with students, parents and the wider community.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) is considering a plan to build a 61-spot surface lot at Eastbourne Avenue and Braemar Street, an area currently occupied by one of the school's two baseball diamonds.
Claire Woodside and her son, Elliot Godfrey, were among the links in a human chain protesting the move at the ball diamond Monday night, ahead of a public meeting on the matter.
"This is a permanent loss of green space. It is very, very difficult to de-pave a space," Woodside said.
"Right now, every weekend we have rugby and soccer tournaments. We have baseball through the week. We have kids playing, people flying kites. This space is used all the time."
Natalie Belovic, a spokesperson for the Manor Park Community Association, said a proposal to add eight portables will further reduce green space at the school.
"Now there's going to be more children coming to school daily with less space for them to play in," Belovic said.
School Board trustee Chris Ellis hosted a meeting with OCDSB representatives Monday evening. Coun. Rawlson King and representatives of neighbouring community associations all spoke against the parking lot plan.
Mike Carson, superintendent of facilities and chief financial officer for the board, said the parking lot is intended to alleviate pressure in front of the school at drop-off and pickup time, when parents in vehicles and school buses crowd the area.
"Our first priority is safety. This was designed recognizing that there was too way too much conflict between cars backing out of that front parking lot," Carson told CBC News.
Carson said the proposal is under consideration and hasn't been submitted to the city yet. He said the board is considering alternatives.
Several people at Monday's meeting said the overcrowding at Manor Park Public School could be resolved by adding a French immersion program at other underused schools in the area, or by reviewing school boundaries.
Carson said that isn't on the table right now, citing a provincial moratorium on that kind of operational review. He said the school, where there are already four portables, is currently around 10 per cent over capacity.