Parking lot dispute said ‘exaggerated’

By David MacGillivray

A dispute between the Bronson Centre and residents of an adjacent townhouse development has been overblown, says Maureen Moloughney, director of the centre.

“We exist quietly here in the neighbourhood,” Moloughney said.

“We are working together with the city to resolve any concerns.”

Earlier published reports in Capital City, an Ottawa alternative weekly newspaper, indicated that a problem over drainage from the centre’s parking lot was part of a campaign to have the centre closed down.

The Bronson Centre was opened two years ago by the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.

It has been renovated at a cost of $400,000, with all financial support coming from the Grey Sisters.

The centre provides space at cost for community groups to teach classes and run workshops.

It took a while to catch on. When it first opened, it was used by only seven groups.

But the centre is now home to 26 groups, with 400 people using the centre every day.

This has put a demand on available parking.

“Parking is essential for us,” Moloughney said.

In order to finance restorations, some of the surrounding land was sold off. This included the old parking lot which was used for a new townhouse development.

The new Bronson Centre parking lot sits several feet higher than the backyards of the townhouses, causing drainage problems.

The Bronson Centre has hired an engineer to draw up plans for the new parking lot.

John Houseman, secretary of the newly formed Residents Committee of Academy Mews, says the Bronson Centre has been responsive and the current drainage problem was caused by the centre “erroneously” putting in fill.

“This was a very minor technical dispute, over very minor technical issues,” Houseman said.

“It was turned into an issue by Capital City using an unnamed tenant in their story who said we were out to close the centre.”

But some tenants still feel they are not well liked.

Ron Castonguay, a tenant of the Bronson Centre, said it’s a good little place to live.

“It’s quiet and safe,” Castonguay said. “They give you a chance.”

But he still says he thinks residents’ complaints are part of a campaign of harassment.

Houseman says the whole incident is one of miscommunication.

Now both sides are trying to set it right.

“We as the owners committee have a responsibility to keep others informed, just as Maureen (Moloughney) has a responsibility to keep the people who use the centre informed,” he said.