Paid parking concerns dominate meeting

By Craig Lord –

Kitchissippi residents are putting the brakes on early suggestions that paid on-street parking might be coming to the ward.

Two dozen residents attended the first consultation for a Kitchissippi parking strategy on May 2 at the Churchill Seniors Centre. Attendees were less interested in listening to the city’s presentation on parking approaches and data and more interested in passing on one key message: keep your meters off our streets.

To be clear, though, the city didn’t come to discuss paid parking, per se. Scott Caldwell, program manager of parking strategies, and Dennis Van Staalduinen, a consultant working with the city on parking solutions, presented an outline of the problems and a “toolkit” of solutions available to the city.

“This conversation is not about paid parking. Paid parking comes into it because it’s one of the tools. But we are looking at a range of tools,” said Van Staalduinen.

The range of tools covers alterations to timed parking, developing more spaces or opening up unused, commercial spaces for public use. Councillor Jeff Leiper noted that Kitchissippi parking strategy will not be a “one size fits all” solution. Variations of any number of parking tools may be implemented to solve parking problems.

These problems, residents heard, revolve around high levels of parking congestion. The presentation relayed the findings from parking studies in Westboro on Richmond Road (from Golden Avenue to Island Park Drive) done in 2011 and in 2014. The 2011 study showed that parking spots were regularly filled, approaching levels of concern, but no action was taken at the time. In 2014, however, data showed that parking spots on Richmond Road where regularly highly congested, whereby potential customers would be unable to find sufficient parking spots on weekends — a primary concern of Westboro merchants.

“We’re frustrated there isn’t enough parking, and we believe the city should be looking at things other than paid parking,” said Louise Radmore of Paradigm Properties Inc., which represents a number of properties in the surveyed area.

Heather Stevens of the Highland Park Lawn Bowling Club added that her club’s members often come from far away and “have a very, very difficult time finding parking.”

Concerns from residents like Stevens and Radmore managed to derail the presentation. The original plan had residents attend breakout sessions, detailing their parking concerns and regrouping at the end. As it was, residents pushed to have their questions answered immediately. Chief among them: will paid parking make a difference?

“The amount of time I would spend in a parking spot will not be determined by whether I’m putting money into a meter or not. It’s going to be determined by what my needs are for time in that space,” offered Roland Dorsay of the Champlain Park Community Association. The city insisted, in turn, that studies have suggested the opposite is true.

A parking study of Wellington Street West begins next month, with results expected to be tabled at a second consultation meeting in September. The Kitchissippi parking strategy will continue to be discussed at that time.

“It’s going to be a long conversation,” noted Coun. Leiper.

Louise Radmore: “I am pleased that the city is looking at the parking problem, but looking isn’t enough at this point. We’ve been studying this issue for a long, long time with studies starting in 2011. And so far, nothing has been done, in my view, to improve the situation whatsoever.” Photo by Craig Lord.
Louise Radmore: “I am pleased that the city is looking at the parking problem, but looking isn’t enough at this point. We’ve been studying this issue for a long, long time with studies starting in 2011. And so far, nothing has been done, in my view, to improve the situation whatsoever.” Photo by Craig Lord.
Heather Stevens: “The local businesses are really important to me. But, now they’re talking about meters. That is going to really destroy some of our smaller local businesses. Because they depend on people who come from away.” Photo by Craig Lord.
Heather Stevens: “The local businesses are really important to me. But, now they’re talking about meters. That is going to really destroy some of our smaller local businesses. Because they depend on people who come from away.” Photo by Craig Lord.
Douglas Poulter: “Right here, at the Churchill community centre, it was identified that this was a really high intensity area for parking. And what do we have here? We have a bicycle rack that is full, at a meeting where there’s hardly any people… They don’t provide the bicycle space. It’s clear that there’s a disconnect between the message that we’re getting and their practice.” Photo by Craig Lord.
Douglas Poulter: “Right here, at the Churchill community centre, it was identified that this was a really high intensity area for parking. And what do we have here? We have a bicycle rack that is full, at a meeting where there’s hardly any people… They don’t provide the bicycle space. It’s clear that there’s a disconnect between the message that we’re getting and their practice.” Photo by Craig Lord.

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