BIA seeks change to one-way street; wants angle parking in commercial district

The Elora Busi­ness Improvement Area’s proposals for two-hour parking limits and a proposal to change Geddes Street to one-way could also have implications for Fergus, too.

Marty Van Vliet came to coun­cil’s committee of the whole meeting on July 7 to present the BIA’s proposals to alleviate parking problems in the village, and he learned coun­cil was planning a special com­mittee to consider parking issues in the township’s com­mercial centres.

Van Vliet said the issue of parking has been discussed off and on in the village for 10 to 15 years, and the BIA now has some firm proposals.

First it is asking that the township post signs that state a two hour parking limit is in ef­fect seven days a week and that the limits be placed on Mill Street West, Metcalfe Street, and Geddes Street, north of Met­calfe.

Van Vliet stated the BIA’s second recommendation is to change Geddes Street South to one-way northbound, and that angle parking be put in on both sides of the street, which would provide more parking spaces than is currently available.

He said the proposal is to have the one way at least to Church Street because that street has been repaved on both sides and would hold the parking. He was unsure how far council might want to continue the one way street northward.

As well, the BIA would like to see lines painted on the side streets to delineate parking spac­es on side streets for one block around the downtown commercial district.

“The hope is to increase the quantity of parking spaces around the downtown in an in­expensive manner.”

Van Vliet said that Public Works Director Ken Elder had suggested that merchants avoid using the prime parking areas, and the BIA’s request to mer­chants to park away from the main business district was a “moderate success,” with about 30% of merchants and their staff moving off the com­mer­cial streets.

Van Vliet said it is im­por­tant that customers perceive that there is easy and conveni­ent parking near stores. He said it is not so much for tourists, but for locals who might want to stop for a quick purchase on their way home from work. They will stop if there is a read­ily available spot near the store they want.

As for the two hour limit, Van Vliet said it should run from 9am to 6pm, all week long. He said the BIA wants signs that are “friendly, not neg­ative.”

Van Vliet said that for now, there are adequate parking spots, but with the Dalby House being turned into a medi­cal centre, doctors and other staff will need parking, and the BIA would like to cre­ate some before there are problems.

Van Vliet concluded by say­ing the Elora BIA supports the economic development com­mit­tee’s plan to continually address parking issues in the township.

Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj said the BIA has “some won­derful suggestions,” but she asked if people are complain­ing.

Van Vliet said there are no problems with visitors, but locals have difficulties. He cited one instance when a 75-year-old woman bringing books to his store had to park nearly a block away and carry them.

“The BIA has no power to control, but it can ask,” he said.

Ross-Zuj said the economic development committee is look­ing at the bigger picture for parking. She also noted it is considering problems that will come in 2009 with the re­building of the Metcalfe Street bridge.

Councillor Kirk McElwain said there will be a subcom­mittee to consider parking, and a number of people will be needed for it. He said it will consider parking short term for this year, and for 2009.

Councillor Fred Morris won­dered if the committee will be ready by the end of the year.

McElwain said he wants it going immediately.

Ross-Zuj said the council will address the issues, and, “It’s not just Elora.”

Van Vliet reiterated that there is ample parking in El­ora’s downtown, but, “It’s about convenience.”

He also thanked the Parks and Recreation and Works De­partment for its efforts in the downtown. He said they have “made Elora look fabulous.”

Ross-Zuj agreed and said there have been many great comments.

Council then approved the forming of a subcommittee to consider parking issue.