Paid parking could be coming to downtown Elora, Fergus

CENTRE WELLINGTON – Start collecting your loonies because paid parking could be coming to a downtown near you.

Paid on-street parking in downtown Fergus and Elora is one of the measures presented to council on Feb. 26 as a solution to the shortage of parking spaces and to encourage turnover of the most coveted spots.

Expanding the hours and route of the weekend shuttle bus is another measure council is considering as it grapples with a shortage of parking, the demands of tourists and the needs of residents.

The township initiated a pilot project in 2021, instituting three-hour parking in the two downtowns, as well as a few 15-minute parking spots, and hired an outside firm to take on enforcement.

In 2023, $151,000 was collected in parking fines but 27% or $41,000 was retained by Wellington County, which provided the administrative services.

Last June the township contracted R.J. Burnside to study the current parking situation and come up with a parking strategy for the two towns.

Gordon Hui presented his findings and recommendations on Feb. 26. They include large-scale changes like paid on-street parking and parking garages, but also smaller improvements like paving the east lot at Bissell Park and establishing joint use agreements with private companies to use their parking lots to help meet the demand.

Other recommendations include:

  • supporting active transportation, such as bike rentals;
  • supporting electric vehicle adoption;
  • expanding municipal supply at the Elora South development;
  • expanding the shuttle bus;
  • expanding user information and wayfinding signage;
  • enhancing enforcement;
  • improving pedestrian connectivity; and
  • parking at short-term rentals.

This map shows the proposed area for paid parking in Fergus. No decision has been made on the matter yet. Image from Feb. 26 council agenda.


CAO Dan Wilson recommended maintaining the status quo for this year, and council directed staff to explore the options presented by Hui to establish costs, benefits and a long-term financial strategy.

Hui said parking in downtown Elora is at 85% capacity, meaning “there’s very little capacity” during the day.

In Fergus, St. Andrew Street from Tower Street to St. David Street is at 75% capacity, but the rest of the downtown and its parking lots range from 28% to 65%, so the situation is not as dire there.

But with growth of the township and growth in tourism, Hui projected demand would exceed supply in Elora by 2030 and a 170-space parking garage will be needed.

Fergus will need a 140-space parking garage by 2041.

This could all be covered through property taxes, or it could be funded by a user-pay system that would include paid parking both on-street and in municipal lots. “The goal is to be self-sustaining,” Hui said.

He recommends joint-use parking agreements with Grand River Raceway, St. Mary’s Catholic School and Elora Public School and making better use of the parking lot at the Jefferson Elora Community Centre as a starting place.

“Based on the parking demand assessment, there is an immediate need for approximately 50 municipal spaces” in Elora, he stated in his report.

Other short-term solutions include reconfiguring existing municipal lots to accommodate more vehicles, paving the area east of Bissell Park for parking and implementing paid parking at the parking lot west of the park.

Passes/paid parking

Perhaps the most contentious recommendation is paid parking.

Hui recommended paid parking for all the parking spots currently under the three-hour parking limit, between 9am and 7pm, and adding more streets to that list, as well as charging for parking in municipal lots.

Paid parking would range between $2 and $3 an hour.

Hui also recommends passes for residents who live in downtown Elora but don’t have a designated parking spot.

Permit parking would be allowed on designated streets and would be on a first-come-first served basis. Parking passes would cost between $80 and $120 a month.

Permits are not recommended for Fergus at this time as there is still free on-street parking in nearby neighbourhoods.

Accessible parking/15-minute spaces

More accessible parking spaces are recommended:

  • in Elora, one spot added on the east side of Metcalfe Street south of Church Street;
  • in Fergus, additional accessible spaces along St. Andrew Street West, east of Maiden Lane (both sides of the street), and on St. Andrew Street East, between St. David Street North and Gowrie Street North (north side of the street).

In Elora, an additional 15-minute parking space is recommended along Metcalfe Street, north of Colborne Street (east side of the street).

In Fergus, an additional 15-minute parking space is recommended along St. Andrew Street West, west of St. David Street North (on the south side of the street).

This map shows the proposed area for paid parking in Elora. Council will consider the proposal during 2025 pre-budget deliberations. Image from Feb. 26 council agenda



Public feedback indicates vehicles parked near intersections are blocking views for drivers, causing safety concerns.

Hui suggested introducing “small car” parking spaces at these intersections, which would improve visibility for drivers while not losing any parking spots.

Potential intersections include Princess and Colborne streets and Church Street West at Metcalfe Street.

Shuttle bus/signange

The shuttle bus was considered a great success, transporting visitors from the Elora Raceway to points in Elora, Aboyne and Fergus in a one-hour route.

Hui’s report suggests expanding the program in both hours of operation, days of the week, and potentially adding more bus stops.

There should be “no parking” signs posted so visitors are clear on where they can and cannot park. There should also be more wayfinding signs – to parking lots, pathways and bus stops.


The township is using Alpha Parking Solutions Parking Enforcement and will continue that for another year.

But staff will explore bringing enforcement in-house, so 100% of parking fines are retained by the township to at least cover the cost and perhaps bring in some revenue.

Wilson said the report, which totals over 550 pages,  is new to staff as well as council and requires some time to digest.

He suggested council approve the staff implementation plan for 2024 and staff will report on the other matters before 2025 budget discussions.

“I’m comfortable with tonight, but have concern with 2025 and paid parking,” said councillor Jennifer Adams.

“I think Fergus and Elora are different and there should be a difference with paid parking,” added councillor Bronwynne Wilton.

She noted there are lawyers and medical offices on St. Andrew Street in Fergus that are used by residents, while Elora has more shops and restaurants geared to tourists.

It’s likely the recommended additional accessible spaces and 15-minute parking spots can be added this year.

Council did not make a decision on paid parking, and it will not come into effect this year.

Mayor Shawn Watters said there will be time for more public engagement on parking before council adopts a parking strategy.