By Lois Hardy
The much-anticipated NCC bistro opened in late July and for the most part has been enthusiastically received. Bistro visitors (some have gone several times) say they appreciate the menu, the quiet attractive setting, the accessibility and the convenience of being able to meet friends outdoors. Much of the opposition to the project disappeared with major changes to the original plans, but there are still some who would prefer the park as it was.
The NCC contracted “Moulin in the Park” partners Daniel and Karina Hayston to operate this bistro and the one in Confederation Park. The Haystons also run le Moulin de Provence KD on Metcalfe Street, with le Moulin de Provence in the Byward Market as the bakery for both locations. Daniel appreciates how many people have welcomed them to the neighbourhood.
Featured on the menu are a number of local products, including Happy Goat coffee, Kichesippi beer, Stella Luna gelato, YOW popcorn and, of course, baked goods from le Moulin de Provence. The full menu and operating hours are available at ncc-ccn.gc.ca/bistro.
One surprise for Daniel is the number of people coming in for breakfast, compared to Confederation Park. While their waffle-iron-pressed sandwiches are very popular, the Haystons will consider adding more breakfast-type options within the limits of their on-site equipment.
Why the delay in opening?
When a bulldozer team arrived in June 2019 without a building permit to prepare the site for a bistro, surprised neighbours reacted quickly to stop it. There had been no prior public consultation and the NCC called a halt for 2019 as well as later for 2020 during the pandemic.
With so many objections to the liquor licence application, an Ontario licence appeal tribunal hearing was necessary to determine whether a licence would be in the public interest. The online hearing ended abruptly in January when a side agreement was reached: the NCC agreed to a list of conditions and all objectors withdrew from the hearing. The Glebe residents who were so effective at the tribunal were Wendy Myers, Jane Bower and Magda Kubasiewicz.
The NCC presented its revised plans at an online meeting organized with the Glebe Community Association last March. Negotiations between the NCC and the GCA to determine the process for evaluating the pilot project will resume after the summer and are to include a site visit. Comments from the public to the NCC can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or written on the cards available in the Pavilion, where there is also a collection box for them.
Elizabeth Ballard, GCA Park Committee member and rep for the Patterson Creek North Area, sums it up:
“Anyone who has enjoyed the unobtrusive, quietly inviting bistro in the pavilion is indebted to the concerned Glebe citizens who spent untold hours fact-finding and negotiating to improve the design of this pilot project. The evaluation that will follow the bistro’s winding down this autumn will allow for broad public assessment, but there is no question the NCC’s original proposal for an unattractive, invasive jumble of shipping containers, porta potties and gravelled expanse has been markedly refined by the compromise nearby residents and community members worked hard to achieve.”
Zoning Bylaw issue – how close is too close?
The bistro’s patio is closer to several residential properties than the 75-metre minimum distance given for “outdoor commercial patios” in the bylaw.
City officials gave the NCC contradictory zoning interpretations on the bistro’s designation. A “restaurant” or “bar” (both defined terms) would require a zoning amendment and compliance with provisions for “outdoor commercial patios,” whereas it appears that a “canteen” would not.
While the agreed bistro conditions (such as limits on hours, capacity and music) minimize disturbance to nearby neighbours from this commercial operation, the use of the term “canteen” for a licensed outdoor patio should be a red flag for the Glebe. Recent correspondence with a city official suggests that the city would welcome projects that bring “vibrancy and animation” to its parks. Will a “canteen” patio be coming soon to a park near you?
Glebe resident Lois Hardy has been closely following the bistro story.