Thursday, June 30, 2022

Port Stanley backed by the BIA’s downtown parking strategy

Port Stanley’s Business Improvement Area (BIA) secured the support of Central Elgin Council on Monday night for a plan to deregulate downtown parking from seasonal visitors and tourists.

The council unanimously endorsed the recommendations in a letter from BIA President Dustin Allen, calling for a two-hour parking limit on city streets from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the busy summer season. He also recommended that Elgin County consider adopting the same changes on the roadways operating in Port Stanley.

The BIA also requested the council to paint legal parking spots with paint, further guiding motorists towards a more fair sharing of the business district’s streetscape. But, no action was taken in that matter.

“History has shown many examples where vehicles have blocked driveways, parked in front of fire hydrants, double parked – especially on the west side of Main Street – and occupied more than one parking spot. has been taken,” Allen said in the BIA’s message to the council. ,

The letter also refers to its consultation with William Street businesses regarding the impact of paid parking at the main beach parking lot. “Zero Street … parking was available after 10 a.m. in late June, throughout July, and throughout August, because people didn’t want to pay to park for a beach day, so they parked their vehicle. ‘Dumped’,” the letter continues.

Allen said, “It got better after the two-hour maximum sign was installed,[but]the back roads began to fill with vehicles, trailers and motorhomes, often blocking driveways, or parking on lawns.” ” “Tourists will wander backyards, hop fences and trespass through areas around paid parking lots to avoid visiting the main beach and paying for parking.”

Lloyd Perrin, Central Elgin Director of Asset Management and Development Services, said: “The parking spaces will not be painted. By painting the parking spaces, it will reduce the number of cars that can potentially be accommodated on the road because Spaces will need to be delineated by the largest vehicle length (such as a pickup truck or large SUV). If spaces are not delineated, smaller vehicles may parallel park in the same area with appropriate space between them and can accommodate more vehicles.

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Allen’s letter was the BIA’s official response to the new rates and fee bylaws approved by the council on November 8, 2021.

“We believe that these clearly delineated lines and two-hour limits will provide customers with ample time to shop locally, eat locally and even attend Festival Theater,” said Allen. . “We understand that these limits may not deter everyone from this ‘dumping,’ although most visitors who are not familiar with Port Stanley and the village bylaws will think twice.”

Central Elgin’s User Fee Committee, chaired by Deputy Mayor Tom Marks, decided in November to expand the off-street parking network after reviewing $412,317 that the municipality had generated from 5.2 acres of space on four lots.

The off-street parking lots, known as Main Beach, Old Ball Park, Pierside Beach and Boat Launch, operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from May 1 to September 30. The boat launch lot operates 24 hours a day.

For 2022, councilors accepted the committee’s recommendation to add 4.58 acres of space across five lots, generating up to $336,016 in additional revenue, the equivalent of two percent of the 2021 tax levy. The new paid, off-street parking lots are: Little Beach, East Headlands, Visitor Center, Erie Rest and Pharmacy Lot. Four “courtesy parking lots” will allow 15 minutes of free parking at the visitor center and pharmacy.

The council also approved spending $125,762 for the purchase of 14 new parking meters, including nine to replace the old ones at the main beach and boat launch lots. They will be installed in May, before Victoria Day weekend.

According to the committee’s report, “These considerations will align with the Council’s October 28, 2019 climate emergency resolution to identify target areas in municipal policy that can have the greatest impact to reduce local impacts on climate change.” Huh.”

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“Generally, appreciating and using value parking properties will be beneficial in realizing other social and environmental objectives,” the committee’s report continues. “In the 2011 central Elgin budget, the net expenditure for the beach (cleaning and maintenance) is $621,898 funded from a tax levy. Additional parking revenue can be used to offset these expenses. ,

The committee and municipal staff designed their off-street parking strategy after reading a new paper prepared by Almos Tasoni and Harry Kitchen for the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG).

As Tasoni & Kitchen reports, “the strength of user fees is its ability to recover all costs of providing a service by adding a fee for its use to those who use it.” “This is the classic for-profit model of public finance – in other words, those who benefit pay, also known as the ‘Vixelian connection.’ It is possible to meet a number of important criteria: efficiency, accountability, transparency, fairness and ease of administration.”

On Monday night, Ward 5 councilor Fiona Wynn said: “I like the idea of ​​a maximum of two hours. I think it’s a good idea and unless I’m missing something, it can’t go a long way, but somehow, to help release a lot of pressure for parking in port.

Municipal parking lots cost $4 per hour, $20 per day, and $30 per day if users have a trailer. A Single Vehicle Season Pass costs $100. The season pass is $120 for a single vehicle with a boat trailer.

“It’s a concept we talked about when we were talking about other bylaws,” said Ward 1 councilor Colleen Rowe. “At the time, we thought well, we’ll see what happens, but there’s enough vocal concern about[that]we need limits to keep businesses and businesses running.”

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