Council defers consideration of plan to park buses at Harriston arena

MINTO – Town council has deferred a decision on a proposal to allow a bus company to use the parking lot at the Harriston-Minto Community Centre.

Cook Bus Lines, which provides transportation services for elementary schools and the high school in the Town of Minto, is looking for a location to park four buses on weekdays and weekends, explained recreation services manager Matt Lubbers in a May 7 report to council.

The report notes the company requires a site with access to hydro. A portion of the parking lot at the Harriston arena has been identified as a possibility.

Lubbers told council the company is proposing to pay the town $2,000, which he said would be used to offset the cost of offering free skating and shinny sessions at the arena.

“This fall they’re looking for a spot to park four buses over the course of the school year,” said Lubbers, adding a location near the ball diamonds near a pole with hydro access is being considered.

“It would probably be something that wouldn’t work in September and June when we’ve got baseball, but that would probably be the months where the hydro service isn’t necessary,” he pointed out.

Councillor Ron Elliott asked Lubbers if the company would move the busses if the parking spaces were needed on some occasions.

“For any major event … they wouldn’t be permitted to park there. They would have to find somewhere else. That might be one of those days where they’ve got to take the busses all the way back to Mount Forest,” said Lubbers.

“Essentially this is for some of the drivers that reside in Harriston. It would just … save them having to go to Mount Forest to pick up their bus there each day.”

Councillor Mark McKenzie asked if the town would need to upgrade the hydro outlets at the location.

“I believe what’s there would be sufficient,” replied Lubbers.

McKenzie also asked if town staff would be required to do any additional plowing of the parking lot, particularly early in the morning. 

Lubbers said arena parking lots in Minto are already high on the plowing priority list due to early bookings.

“It does usually get cleared fairly early in the morning … I don’t know that it would cause us to be there any earlier,” Lubbers said. 

Councillor Ron Elliott said, “I would think if there’s that much snow that the bus can’t go through it to get out of the parking lot, then there’s probably no busses running.”

“It’s likely there might be some growing pains here,” observed deputy mayor Dave Turton. 

“But I think it’s a good initiative … to utilize some of our open spaces and if there’s growing pains we will work through them,” he added.

Mayor George Bridge said he is concerned about a lack of space in the parking lot when events occur at both the arena and curling club facilities. He also said he is concerned about possible damage to busses from baseballs leaving the diamond, although the proposed agreement specifies the town “would not be responsible for any damages or issues” that may arise. 

The mayor suggested the agreement, proposed to run until June 2022, include a provision for review after the first year, noting “if we do run into major problems … at least we have an option to get out of this agreement.” 

Council deferred discussion on the proposal pending input from the parks and recreation advisory committee.