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Downtown parking under the gun again

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Council decided meters weren’t the answer but the town is still working on a plan to free up more parking spaces along Scott Street for shoppers.

Now it’s hoping signs directing the public to the town-owned parking lots, as well as making information available as to their use, will work.

The Business Improvement Area also will continue asking local employers and employees not to use on-street parking.

But the plan won’t lead to any changes in the town bylaw, which calls for two-hour parking along the street between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Instead, the town’s Planning and Development executive committee is taking another look at the hours and days of the week a bylaw enforcement officer patrols the downtown area, along with possibly increasing enforcement.

It also is looking at upping the fine for parking tickets, which currently runs between $10-$15. Revenue generated from parking tickets--801 were issued in total last year--goes into the town’s general coffers.

“I don’t know that it’s going to change anything for the moment,” admitted Planning and Development manager Ted Berry, noting a bylaw enforcement officer already patrolled Scott Street daily.

“At some point in time, we’ll have to do another check like before, unannounced, to see who is parking in the area,” he added.

Berry said the issue arose from a study done by the bylaw department last year that revealed some 30 percent of those parking on Scott Street were employers and employees.

But he also admitted employers and employees aren’t violating any bylaws by shuffling their cars to avoid the two-hour limit.

“If they want to be there, they are taxpayers,” agreed Gord McBride, business co-ordinator with the BIA, adding the downtown merchants never felt there was a parking problem along the street in the first place.

But he noted the BIA would still try to sway employers and employees off the street.

“They’re not [breaking the law] but the true intent of the bylaw has been circumvented when they do that,” Berry agreed, noting the intent of the bylaw was to provide short-term parking for shoppers.

“It’s the stores themselves that lose out,” he added.

Meanwhile, the downtown core isn’t the only area under the gun. The town is proposing two-hour parking along the waterfront from First to Fifth Streets East between 6 a.m. and midnight.

Overnight parking also won’t be permitted in an attempt to stop tractor-trailers and large trucks from parking there. Berry noted the town had received complaints from residents about trucks starting up in the wee hours of the morning.

“It’s not intended for those trucks to use that as a parking area,” Berry stressed.

But that bylaw isn’t expected to be in place until June. And once it gets the nod from council, the bylaw still would have to get Ministry of Transportation approval because it deals with the connecting link.

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