It’s been more than a year since council asked Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake staff to investigate parking concerns in Niagara on the Green.
Staff were tasked with doing a report on a parking permit system in the area in order to alleviate residents’ frustrations with a parking bylaw that says a car cannot park in one spot on a municipal street for more than 12 hours.
But that never happened. And now resident Daniel St-Jean is asking the town to do so once again.
“Bylaws, the way I look at them when I’m reading them on the website, are meant to protect the citizens,” he told council on Monday, July 25.
“The bylaw for 12-hour maximum parking (has), in my view, nothing to do with protecting the citizens.”
St-Jean pointed out a loophole around the bylaw he said he was informed of by town staff.
He said if you move your car a few feet before the 12 hours is up it resets the clock, since the car is not in the same spot it was before. Officers determine this by comparing photos of the location of the spokes on a wheel, he said.
“So, if the bylaw’s purpose is to keep vehicles off the street, I’m sorry but I can leave my vehicle parked there for a month as long as I move it a couple feet,” he said.
“So, it doesn’t do anything for keeping cars off the street.”
“What it does, though, is it really annoys the heck out of the citizens and taxpayers.”
St-Jean suggested several solutions, such as repealing the bylaw entirely (his preferred outcome), asking bylaw officers not enforce the 12-hour rule in Niagara on the Green or implement a permit parking system.
“I would be totally happy with paying $99 for a little sticker that you put on my back window that says, ‘Don’t bug me. I live here.’ ”
Treasurer Kyle Freeborn explained why the follow up report on parking permits from last May never saw the light of day.
“We believe it just kind of got lost in the throes of our outstanding items list and in the change of staff and the change of structure,” he told council.
Staff will revisit the issue and “look into permits for the area,” he said,
Permits could be easily implemented through Honk Mobile or the town’s annual parking sticker system, he added.
Chief administrator Marnie Cluckie said there are areas of town where overnight parking is an issue and therefore the bylaw is a necessary tool.
She cited the dock area as an example.
“They had a problem with boon-dockers in the area, which are people that come and … park their large vehicles (where) they can’t for extended periods,” she said.
Coun. Wendy Cheropita said she was worried the permit system could be seen as a tax grab.
“I am not one that likes the idea of residents having to pay to park in front of their own house,” Cheropita said.
“I think that’s not something that we want to do lightly without any research.”
She requested staff consider removing the bylaw for Niagara on the Green specifically, something Cluckie said is not ideal but could be done.
Freeborn said he expects a report on the situation to come before council at the end of August.