It is now against the law to park adjacent to or in a town park overnight in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Council unanimously passed a new bylaw on Sept. 27 despite narrowly advancing as a motion a week earlier in a 5-4 vote.
The bylaw makes it illegal to park on the side of the street adjacent to a municipal park for more than eight hours overnight. It is also illegal to park in any park overnight for any period of time, such as in the lot at Centennial Sports Park in Virgil.
Parking anytime along Turntable Way near Balls Beach is now restricted to the east side only. And drivers can no longer park on the west side of King Street for a 55-metre stretch south from Front Street, according to the bylaw.
The Lake Report reached out to bylaw officials regarding what times constitute “overnight.” As of late Wednesday, they were unable to provide a clear answer.
Lord Mayor Betty Disero said she believes the timeframe would be between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., but that is not mentioned in the bylaw document. Signs posted near Simcoe Park also vaguely refer to “overnight” but provide no actual hours.
Coun. Erwin Wiens said the original motion considered safety to be at the core of the bylaw. He asked director of operations Sheldon Randall what safety issues had been observed regarding overnight parking.
“To date, staff have not identified any safety concerns,” Randall said.
Originally Wiens said he wouldn’t support the bylaw and raised a safety concern it could create if passed.
“After a sporting event somebody (could have) a drink or two, or maybe a drink or two too many, and so they’ll be asked, ‘Hey pal, leave your car here and we’ll give you a ride home.’” Wiens told councillors.
Wiens said he was concerned the illegality of leaving a car near a park or in a park parking lot overnight could prompt more people to drive home after drinking alcohol.
“I don’t condone it but it’s certainly a reality that happens in our society,” he said.
“We’re gonna have unintended consequences in some of these places that maybe we haven’t thought about.”
Burroughs was concerned with motor homes parking along Byron Street next to Simcoe Park.
“In the past few weeks after Labour Day there were seven RVs parked on the church side of Byron Street. And that’s fine, because right now there are no rules,” Burroughs said.
Wiens agreed that there was a parking problem on Byron and said if the bylaw targeted Byron Street instead of every park in the municipality he might support it.
In the end, Wiens voted with everyone else in favour of the bylaw.