This week, Council met to deliberate a number of items, one of which was the matter of winter parking restrictions. Last year, Council in the majority approved a pilot study that would allow for parking at all times (day or night) on the street during the winter, unless a snow event was issued. When a “snow event” was called that meant that no vehicle could be on the road – at any time, day or night. Unfortunately, the pilot was not a success. Hundreds of tickets were issued – day and evening – due to the cars being on the road when snow events were called. As a consequence, the staff recommendation before Council was that the Town return to its previous bylaw restricting overnight parking during the hours of 2 am and 6 am during the winter. Staff has indicated that they feel with the new and improved service that they will be implementing this year, the best way to keep the roads clear and safe is to return to the previous winter parking restrictions. While this means that the town will revert back to restricting overnight parking from 2am to 6am (4hrs), this will also mean that no tickets will be issued during the day, should there be a snow event.
Last year, there were 21 “snow events” called under the pilot program. Each snow event lasted a minimum of 24 hrs… This meant that during a snow event that no one could park on any street in the Town for a minimum of 24 hrs – which was actually more restrictive than the previous bylaw, which did allow residents to park on the road at all times except for the period of 2 – 6 am.
That being said, reverting back to winter restrictions does present an issue for some residents who do not have anywhere to park their cars. However, I believe there are other more effective and efficient ways to address this issue without affecting snow removal service levels.
Back at the beginning of the term Councillor Kim and myself asked staff to develop a town-wide plan for permitted parking and “just in time” parking permits. Under this plan, those who need to be able to park overnight during the winter, would get a permit – and not get ticketed. Similarly, “just in time” parking permits would work for those having holiday gatherings or just having people over and need a place for their vehicles. They would get a permit and they would be able to park… The Town has the technology and equipment to do this. Unfortunately, moving forward with the permitting plan was put on hold as we tried the pilot program.
To me, issuing permits for those that need to park on the road or who need temporary parking on the road for guests or events makes more sense to solve the parking issue than requiring residents to sign up to be informed about snow events. Under the pilot program, only 2% of residents with vehicles were signed up to be informed when there was a snow event, this meant that 98% of the Town were unaware of when a snow event was called and that they needed to have their vehicle off the road or receive a ticket… This might be the reason that fines for 2016/2017 were up 100% during the day!! (The Town had never issued tickets during the day previously).
In discussing reverting back to winter restrictions, staff mentioned that Bylaw will not be ticketing unless the plows are out and will be educating residents re the winter restrictions bylaw when the plows are not out.
For snow removal, the most effective and efficient way is to clear snow during the overnight hours (weather cooperating). I believe that ensuring we have the ability to provide the best snow removal service for our residents while also resolving parking overnight parking issues through a permitting system for those residents that need to park on the road, is in the best interest of all our residents.
The recommendation from staff to reinstate overnight parking restrictions was passed unanimously….