Council goes behind closed doors to tackle parking...
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Mar 25, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Council goes behind closed doors to tackle parking bylaw changes

St. Marys Journal Argus

Stew Slater

St. Marys Journal Argus

There was significant discussion of proposed amendments to the town’s parking/traffic bylaw — much of it behind closed doors — at a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, March 18.

Town Council eventually voted to bring the matter forward for final approval. But it was expected there would be a good deal more discussion before that approval vote eventually took place at a regular Council meeting on Tuesday, March 25.

Among the original proposed amendments were: allowing residents to apply for on-street parking permits; tighter controls on parking in spots set aside as “accessible”; and restrictions on over-weight vehicles where weight limits exist. But thanks to suggestions brought forward by councillors at the March 18 meeting and in the days following, it’s possible that restrictions on downtown truck traffic and an increased time limit for downtown parking may also have been among the changes brought forward.

Councillor Bill Osborne began the discussion at the March 18 meeting, arguing, “by creating on-street parking, we’re just asking for trouble.” Councillor Tony Winter was quick to agree, saying “it would open up a can of worms.” Winter noted that, in the past, the Town has forced residents who insisted on parking on the right-of-way to find someplace on their own property.

It wasn’t long after those comments, however, that councillors were informed by CAO Kevin McLlwain that they would have to retreat behind closed doors to continue discussion. That’s because, in response to Winter and Osborne, Councillor Don Van Galen suggested the on-street permits — or, as he would like to see them referred to, “parking within the road allowance” permits — might be exactly the solution the Town is looking for in what has recently developed into a drawn-out, neighbour-against-neighbour dispute in the North Ward. In that case, the owner of the uniquely-shaped vacant lot at the intersection of Emily, Water and Widder Streets has asked for strict enforcement against neighbourhood residents who — in keeping with a decades-old tradition — park their vehicles on the town-owned boulevard adjoining his property.

When talk turned to that subject, however, McLlwain quickly jumped in, saying the matter would have to be discussed “in camera” due to “potential litigation.”

There was, meanwhile, public discussion of two other elements of the proposed bylaw amendments.

At the March 18 meeting, Councillor Carey Pope argued in favour of increasing the downtown parking time limit from two hours to three hours. She pledged to push for that change in advance of this week's final approval vote.

And Councillor Stephen McCotter, who was not able to attend the March 18 meeting, later served notice of his intention to push for heightened restrictions on downtown truck traffic.

“If we are serious about keeping huge trucks out of our downtown then we need to pass something to this effect, and we further need to be serious about enforcement (after a strong education campaign, of course),” McCotter said in an email to McLlwain and fellow councillors — a copy of which was also provided to the Journal Argus.

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