BY SHARON CHARTIER
The February edition of the Glebe Report included an update on the planned “switch” of programs, students and staff between Mutchmor and First Avenue schools. This update will focus on the issues associated with providing parking for the larger staff contingent at the expanded Mutchmor School in 2014. City of Ottawa bylaws require 14 parking spaces based on the expected staff size of the new Mutchmor School. These spaces have been accommodated on the existing school site. Less certain is the number of additional spaces that may be required, with up to 29 more spaces needing to be found, since the current practice of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) is to provide parking for all staff at the school where they work.
The most probable of the lowest-cost options is for the OCDSB to pave a portion of Mutchmor Field (between Third and Fourth avenues). Although the field is the property of the OCDSB, it has been used extensively for many years by community groups, including the Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group (GNAG) and the Ottawa International Soccer Club, and by children who congregate there to enjoy unstructured play outside of school hours. There are approximately 6,000 after-school, youth and summer camp users, in addition to adult and community users of the soccer pitch, ice rink and ice pad. Parking in the field would impact all these users, as well as the Mutchmor students. Reduction in recreation area in this intensively used play yard represents an irreplaceable loss for the Glebe. Green space is scarce in the Glebe, and the community’s view has been clearly expressed to the OCDSB, that no part of the existing field should be paved or used as a construction staging site. (We have just learned that the current OCDSB plan is to use Mutchmor Field for construction staging).
The board invited representatives from the Mutchmor and First Avenue school communities (parents, staff and principals), the Glebe Community Association (GCA), community groups including GNAG, our municipal councillor, David Chernushenko, and our area school board trustee, Rob Campbell, to meet on April 4 to discuss the Mutchmor Field. The parking issue was highlighted, as well as the need to develop the field, since it will have to support the much larger school population of approximately 1,000 students daily from Mutchmor and Corpus Christi schools, once the “switch” takes place. Community groups described their usage of the field to school board officials and noted the lack of any alternative space in the Glebe.
Councillor Chernushenko was clear that he would not support paving any portion of Mutchmor Field and, as an option to be explored, offered the new city parking garage to be built behind the Metro grocery store. He clarified that the City of Ottawa does not provide free spaces to any groups, as it aims to reduce commuter car use. As well, the city does not provide dedicated spaces to anyone on the street and is restricted from doing so by provincial legislation.
The stakeholders formed a separate working committee to examine specifically the parking issue. This group will develop a recommendation and provide it to the OCDSB (within a June timeframe). Board staff will present a report with analysis of the most viable options, and a recommendation to the OCDSB, which will make the final decision about how the additional parking requirements will be satisfied.
On April 16, the GCA Education Committee appeared at the OCDSB Committee of the Whole to express once again the community’s desire to seek options, other than paving part of a playground, to solve the parking needs of an expanded Mutchmor School. To view the presentation, look under Communications on the GCA Education Committee’s website at www.glebeca.ca/committees/education.
Consider some of the options for additional parking:
- dedicate Lyon Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues to additional teacher parking spaces; it is already blocked to through traffic;
- designate the required number of parking spaces in the new Second Avenue parking garage or in the current Second Avenue outdoor lot.
If you have other ideas for parking close to Mutchmor School, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharon Chartier is chair of the Glebe Community Association Education Committee.