BY CATHERINE MCKENNA AND SHARON CHARTIER
The Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) recently announced its intention to use 10,000 square feet of Mutchmor Field between Third and Fourth avenues to provide additional staff parking for Mutchmor Public School, once First Avenue Public School and Mutchmor’s programs, students and staff are “switched” in 2014. This proposal was unexpected and short on community consultation.
The Glebe community continues to express and act on a willingness to work with the OCDSB, the city and other key stakeholders to find a more acceptable solution, balancing the parking requirements of the OCDSB with the best interests of the community. However, the Glebe community’s position is clear: No part of Mutchmor Field should be used as a parking lot.
The OCDSB has a practice of providing free parking spaces for employees. Due to projected increases in the number of students at Mutchmor in 2014, the OCDSB is looking to provide up to 29 additional parking spots for employees, but there is insufficient room on the school site to accommodate this parking. OCDSB staff have indicated that their preferred option is to use a portion of Mutchmor Field, which it owns, to provide the extra parking. City of Ottawa bylaws require only 14 parking spaces based on the number of new classrooms to be added to Mutchmor. This number of spaces can be accommodated on the school site; additional parking spots are not required under city bylaws.
POSITION OF THE GLEBE COMMUNITY
The Glebe community, including the Glebe Community Association (GCA), the Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group (GNAG), the First Avenue School Council, the Mutchmor School Council, the St. James Tennis Club and the Ottawa Internationals Soccer Club, is against any use of Mutchmor Field for these reasons.
1. Mutchmor Field is located in the heart of the Glebe and is the primary outdoor recreational space in the area. A total of 6,000 children from the Glebe and beyond use this space yearly as part of programs offered by GNAG. Over 300 hours of GNAG programmed activities occur annually on Mutchmor Field. Approximately 1,000 students from Mutchmor Public School and Corpus Christi School use the field for recess and physical education classes. The proposed parking lot would result in the loss of the two community-supported ice rinks. The lot would also result in the loss of an adequately sized soccer field for the Ottawa Internationals Soccer Club, an extremely popular program for children in the Glebe. Mutchmor Field is a central meeting and recreation place, used informally by families outside of school hours.
2. The Glebe has less than half of the city standard amount of parkland. The city’s target for adequate total greenspace is 4.0 hectares per 1,000 population. The Glebe falls short of this total by 50 per cent.
3. During more than a year of discussions on accommodation issues in Glebe schools, OCDSB staff never indicated that a parking lot on any part of Mutchmor Field might be required.
4. For more than 80 years, Mutchmor Field has been consistently used for recreation and leisure.
The GCA has organized meetings with all key stakeholders over the past few months to find a solution that does not involve parking on Mutchmor Field. Councillor Chernushenko worked with Ottawa city officials to move ahead quickly with the new city parking garage behind Metro Glebe. As an exception, the OCDSB would be allowed to lease spaces in the new parking garage within school hours during the school year. MPP Yasir Naqvi, who opposes a parking lot on Mutchmor Field, is fully engaged and working with stakeholders to find a solution. Community stakeholders, including the GCA, parent councils and GNAG, have submitted formal positions to our trustee and the OCDSB objecting to parking on Mutchmor Field.
OCDSB staff have agreed to develop other employee parking options for consideration by OCDSB trustees. We understand that this will include the new city parking garage. Recently, OCDSB staff indicated that the construction project to expand Mutchmor school would be staged from Mutchmor Field rather than from Fifth Avenue and existing parking areas, as previously indicated.
The GCA’s action plan involves a variety of measures to be enacted in partnership with key community stakeholders, should the OCDSB continue to pursue the Mutchmor Field option. To mobilize Glebe residents, information will be updated on the GCA website (www.glebeca.ca) and messages sent out through a variety of channels. To add your name to the GCA email distribution list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The GCA will also engage with the OCDSB on the question of staging and parking during the Mutchmor Public School construction project. The GCA considers it imperative to find a solution that does not infringe on recreational use of Mutchmor Field by students and other members of the community.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Express your opinions about the possibility of OCDSB creating parking on Mutchmor Field. Call OCDSB Superintendent of Facilities Michael Clarke at 613-596-8211 ext. 8818 or email email@example.com, copying Trustee Rob Campbell (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the GCA Education email account (email@example.com ).