Gravenhurst council has taken a pass on testing out parking alternatives for special events. A motion, put forth by Coun. Penny Varney would have seen staff research options and possibly try issuing a notice giving a friendly reminder that they are illegally parked rather than writing a ticket.
The motion stated that “parking at special events has resulted in a perceived increased volume of parking infraction tickets, leaving visitors with an added expense.” It stipulated that any warning notices would not include vehicles parked in an emergency vehicle location or blocking fire hydrants.
Varney explained that there, “may be those who feel ticketing is the only way to show people they are parked in the wrong spot. I believe there are other ways.”
She said she had received complaints from tourists who had received tickets and said they would never return after being ticketed for parking.
Varney said there are a lot of “gray areas” when it comes to parking, especially for visitors. She suggested leaving “a card that says ‘welcome to Gravenhurst, we hope you enjoy this event. You are in a no-parking zone, but today you are being given a pass or we will overlook it this time.’ This says so much for the town and the word will spread that we are a welcoming community.”
She gave an example of giving someone who has gone over the three-hour parking limit by less than half an hour a warning pass rather than ticketing. She said that she does not want Gravenhurst to be seen as a “ticketed community” and said she would like “to see a pilot project starting next year.”
Coun. Sandy Cairns supported the idea, saying “we’ve had parking problems for a lot of years and we will continue to do so, but I totally agree that during special events, with small infractions maybe a warning is better than giving out a ticket. We’re not hurting for money.”
Coun. Peter Johnston said that he had been on the receiving end of one of these warning passes when visiting Elora, Ont., and that being “the recipient of a nice, written note on my windshield” made him want to return.
However Coun. Randy Jorgensen said that most people know when they are parking where they shouldn’t be and they shouldn’t be surprised if they are ticketed. He also pointed out that if they feel they have been unfairly ticketed, there is an appeals process in place. He said he believes by-law officers already do overlook minor infractions in gray areas, but that doing this sends the message of “park wherever you want in Gravenhurst.”
Coun. Erin Strength said this was a “hot topic” for her and referred back to the “absolute mayhem” on Brown St. during the antique boat show, where people parked everywhere despite the ‘no parking’ signs. “It’s the law, that’s the way I look at it,” she said.
Mayor Heidi Lorenz weighed in, clearly opposing the motion, because she had seen it tried in the past. “It was not successful because people know they can break the rules and there’s no consequences,” she said.
Mayor Lorenz called for a vote for the motion. Councillors Cairns, Morphy and Varney voted in favour, remaining councillors and the Mayor voted against.
The next Committee of the Whole meeting is on Sept. 19 at 3 p.m. and can be viewed on the Town of Gravenhurst’s YouTube channel.
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