CENTRE WELLINGTON – R.J. Burnside has not completed its study of parking in downtown Elora and Fergus, but councillors are concerned a parking structure was not suggested in an interim report presented on Nov. 27.
Burnside project manager Gordon Hui said the data collected in September indicates parking spots in Elora, on average, are 85 per cent occupied.
Saturday is the busiest day in downtown Elora, with mainly tourism traffic gobbling the spots.
On Thursdays parking is at a premium around sports and recreation sites like the Jefferson Elora Community Centre and Bissell Park, Hui said, assuming it was local residents using those spots.
Further data collection findings won’t be surprising to residents of Elora: on weekdays, parking is rarely available close to the destination from noon to 3pm although “somewhat available” further away.
And on weekends “parking is rarely (almost never) available between noon and 5pm. Parking is most likely not close to the destination,” Hui wrote in his report.
Fergus has a different story, according to the data.
Parking spots are 48% occupied on average, but highest demand is for on-street parking on St. Andrew Street and St. David Street.
Parking is mostly available within the entirety of the study area on weekdays, although drivers may find slight difficulties finding parking close to their destination on St. Andrews Street between 11am and 1pm, Hui states in his report.
And while there are available parking spots on weekends, spots are not likely to be close to destinations on St. Andrew Street between noon and 4pm.
“Parking is generally not convenient during peak times in the core of downtown Fergus,” Hui states.
“St. Andrews Street between Tower Street and St. David Street, the Queen Street lot, Menzies Lane lot, and St. Patrick lot are quite full while other parking areas have availability.”
The study also found businesses would like a few short-term spaces for deliveries and a 15-minute parking spot should be allotted outside the St. Andrew Pharmacy in Fergus.
Other comments from public engagement sessions include:
- parking at residents’ homes in Elora becomes challenging when close to short-term rentals like Air BnBs;
- insufficient bike storage;
- insufficient parking for employees in Elora and Fergus;
- support for parking permits for residents and employees;
- three-hour parking limits are not long enough;
- businesses say customers have difficulty navigating to parking lots while driving;
- paid parking might have to be considered;
- expand the downtown shuttle bus program to a year-round service, for both residents and visitors.
Hui said there’s opportunity for the township to find vendors for bicycle or e-bike rentals – for an active transportation option for visitors that could reduce the need for parking in the downtowns.
He said more parking could be gained by reconfiguring some existing lots. He also noted a second parking lot east of the Bissell Park lot could help the situation.
As well, enhancing pedestrian connections from the parking lots in Fergus to the downtown core could make those further away parking lots a more attractive option as well.
Councillors liked the notion of bike rentals and permit parking for downtown residents without a designated parking spot.
But the report was shy on solutions, they stated.
“I was hoping to see more (parking) garages,” said councillor Barb Lustgarten-Evoy.
“A garage could be for long-term parking for employees and residents,” councillor Jennifer Adams agreed.
Councillor Bronwynne Wilton saw opportunity to remove the parking lot by the library and make that a public gathering space with views of the Grand River.
Adding a parking garage elsewhere could make up for those lost spots, she said.
Hui said he will incorporate feedback from the meeting into the final report, which will include recommendations, strategies and an implementation plan, and will return to council in January.
Council received Hui’s report for information.