Council ponders solutions to perennial parking problems

Centre Well­ing­ton councillors discussed park­ing problems in Elora on March 3 at their committee of the whole meeting, but came to few conclusions except that people are going to have to work together.

The issue was sparked by a letter to the municipality by Marty Van Vliet, of the Elora BIA.

He said the parking prob­lems include:

– existing parking is being used by merchants, office em­ployees, and tenants, limited a convenient supply of parking for customers;

– there is an insufficient sup­ply of parking; and

– there is no overnight street parking for residents and visit­ors in the winter, which ignores the historic nature of most downtown properties (they were developed before the in­vention of the car), and that could limit future development in the core.

Van Vliet said there are a number of possible solutions.

He suggested that council “designate some street parking as customer essential. This is principally Mill Street East, Mill Street West, Metcalfe Street, and Geddes Street from the Dalby House to Moir Street, as well as parts of Moir, James, and Church Streets.”

Van Vliet said, “These areas would have a two hour limit which would be enforced on a random basis.

All side streets would be designated as all day parking and signs would direct drivers there from the main thoroughfares.

Van Vliet also suggested that council explore other pos­sibilities where parking could be added.

He suggested for example, making lower Geddes Street from Mill Street to the Dalby House as one way travelling north. He noted the shoulders are already paved so angle parking may be possible on one or both sides.

He also wrote that consid­ering a controlled entrance for the small plaza on Mill Street East and add some street parking on Mill Street East.

Van Vliet also said chang­ing Clyde Street from the bridge to the sewage pumping station into a one way street and put in angle parking.

Van Vliet suggested picking a side street such as lower Geddes or Church Streets and do alternate side, night parking, with left side parking on even dates, and right side on odd dates, and to post those times so residents can move their vehicles to allow for efficient snow removal.

Public Works Director Ken Elder told council that the Highway Traffic Act states that there is no parking allowed on streets from November to April to allow for snow clearing. He said the OPP enforces that law.

Elder noted there are similar parking issues in Fergus, and that the complaints are not unique.

He said since amalgamation in 1999, the township has re­constructed Metcalfe Street and added six more parking spaces; rebuilt Geddes Street and the parking lot south of Mill Street East, which provided an extra 14 parking spaces and some over­night winter parking; re­built the hydro substation on Mill Street East and created four parking spaces; and re­configured the road behind the municipal office in 2001 and again in 2004 and provides 15 more spaces.

He added the township has investigated a controlled en­trance to the plaza on Mill Street, and sidewalk from the substation to Geddes Street, along with a proper drainage system with an approximate cost of $70,000 in 2006, and that would provide two or three more spaces.

Elder noted that the recon­struction of the Metcalfe Street bridge in 2009 might provides some opportunity to create extra parking spaces on Clyde Street.

He also suggested the BIA could request merchants, em­ployees, and tenants to use muni­cipal parking lots, instead of simply parking where cus­tomers would find shopping con­venient. He said that is parti­cularly evident on Mill Street West, where most of the tenants use the parking in front of stores.

“I think we can all work together,” Elder said, adding, “Parking is always a problem.”

And, he later noted, “People want to park out front. It’s human nature.”

As for the idea of turning the south part of Geddes into a one way with angle parking, Elder said there are serious safety concerns with angle park­ing, and that is dem­on­strated in MacDonald Square, in front of the muni­cipal building.

Elder said having police issue tickets is one way to solve the problem, but it brings on another.

Councillor Walt Visser agreed.

“The fury of people when they are ticketed is unbeliev­able,” he said.

Merchants, in particular, do not want customers ticketed because they likely will not re­turn to the town.

Elder said the township is always looking for property for sale that can be used, but it is not always feasible to buy and use it.

Council finally agreed it would investigate some possi­bilities for parking, but made no promises.