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Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Letter: Fix parking and shuttle visitors to Old Town

Dear editor:

First, I disagree with the Queen Street  shutdown date change, from October to July 19.

Clearly the former date would generate more meaningful data, however I assume the July date is not written in stone. With respect to the parking concerns, continuing to migrate into our residential areas is not the solution.

Has the town considered, for example, using the following short-term options: The acreage within the closed Parliament School grounds, the NOTL Community Centre, an area close to the Shaw in the Commons, similar to the temporary parking cleared along Hwy. 55 for the Lavender Festival?  

The town has neither the appetite nor the resolve to seriously address the parking Issue or the permanent closure of Queen Street (overcrowding/overtourism)  for the long term.

We have been repeatedly told that closing Queen Street has been discussed for decades. 

The operative word here is, discussed. Never, it appears, has a consensus been reached to undertake a professional study, with a date certain to complete same and collectively make a final determination of the long-term benefit to all parties concerned.

Perhaps small town politics, as is often the case, impeded such a study. Clearly street closures, parking, services to stores etc. is not a new phenomenon. We are not reinventing the wheel here. There are hundreds of thousands of examples worldwide to draw solutions from.

Our town's CAO said closing Queen Street is not so easy. Bold decisions are usually never easy, however where there's a will, there's a way.

Quoting from an article in the July 3 Lake Report, headlined “Pillar and Post turns 50,” the parking issue was also raised decades ago. 

To quote the hotel's founder, John Drope, a true visionary who was one of the first to warn of parking problems on Queen Street becoming a major issue, he urged the town, “To follow the Williamsburg, Virginia, example and create parking outside the historic area, with shuttles carrying visitors to town.” And everybody thought he was crazy. Not so.

His vision is still true today. He was certainly, in my opinion, not thinking about parking meters in residential areas.

Yes, shuttle people in from the community centre. etc  All temporary parking paid, of course, with an attendant. No parking meter installation costs. For example, Carmel, California, on the Monterey Peninsula, a tourist trap with a population similar to NOTL's Old Town, does not allow parking on residential streets.

It should also be noted that the street closing was not focused on increasing merchants' revenues – it was specifically to address overcrowding on the sidewalk and concerns about social distancing control.

Samuel Young