Centre Wellington to extend downtown parking program, but will consider relief for residents

·3 min read

Centre Wellington's downtown parking pilot program continued to cause a stir at Monday's council meeting.

Problems with downtown residents being towed and ticketed in Elora and Fergus along with the fact the county gets most of the ticket revenue were the main bones of contention.

Manager of legislative services Kerri O’Kane presented a report on the downtown parking pilot program.

She offered two options: extend the downtown parking pilot program and continue to contract with Alpha Parking Solutions for 2022; or direct staff to reallocate the funds allocated in the 2022 budget for downtown parking enforcement.

Some councillors were anxious about extending the program as many downtown residents have expressed fears of their cars being towed away. Their was also concern expressed about and the County of Wellington receiving most of the revenues from the tickets.

“Will this downtown program be updated for us to approve because there’s all suggestions here being made wherein one is about us not receiving any of the revenue and the second is about downtown residents and housing,” said Coun. Stephen Kitras.

Coun. Steven VanLeeuwen notes that it’s difficult to continue working on a program when the township is spending money and giving the revenues away to the county.

The report showed that the 2022 capital budget has $100,000 allocated toward the program.

Coun. Bob Foster suggested moving the program in-house, noting that the township has a bylaw enforcement officer.

“I don’t believe option two is appropriate. The program hasn’t been an effective use of $100,000,” said Foster. “We have expenses of $100,000 and a revenue of only $1,000. I want the parking program to be moved in-house.”

Mayor Kelly Linton did not agree with Foster’s suggestion as he believes that the first year of any program is the toughest, and option one is something council is able to work with.

Councillors recognize that they’re in agreement with not being happy with the second option as they do not want to give any more revenue to the County.

Mayor Linton notes that the report suggests talking to the county about negotiating the revenue sharing to offset enforcement costs.

Some were good with the suggestion, like Coun. Ian MacRae who noted he will support the parking program if council addresses the parking needs of downtown residents.

“We need to provide them an area to park their vehicle that will be immune from ticketing and towing; and the possibility of monthly parking fees,” said MacRae.

“I want to put this motion forward because my constituents have expressed their worries to me time and time again. I want to stand up for them.”

MacRae moved that the extension of the parking pilot program include a solution to address downtown residents needs for parking, and that the possibility of monthly parking fees be evaluated along with the results of the pilot program. It was seconded by Coun. Kirk McElwain.

Council voted to extend the downtown parking pilot program. Coun. Foster was the only one opposed.

Angelica Babiera, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com

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