Tiny Township will increase the number of non-resident parking permits to 250 by offering 25 permits through a lottery system.
The decision was made at a recent council committee meeting after a couple of non-residents sent emails requesting a reconsideration of the decision to leave them out of the original 225 count. Their main argument was that they had submitted their applications on the April 1 deadline, as advertised on the township's website.
Steve Harvey, chief municipal bylaw enforcement officer, said the website says, it's a first-come first-served basis and permits are available on April 1.
"People were earlier and earlier dropping off applications and mailing them in," he said. "It was never an issue until this year. There was a discussion prior to the sale of them and it created additional awareness on top of COVID parking restrictions that were put in place. It's generated more interest in our system."
Harvey said staff had already received 225 applications leading up to March 31. That was the new number of parking permits that council had agreed on earlier this year.
"Overnight, we received an additional 18 parking permits request, he said. "Subsequent to that, we received an additional bunch of requests in the afternoon and some more through the mail in the following days."
Coun. Tony Mintoff had a simple solution.
"If it's more than 25 (requests), we should have a lottery system," he said. "If it's less than that, I don't have a problem with it being included in our current permits."
Harvey said the requests received on April 1 and later were adding up to 327.
Mintoff said in that case he would definitely go with the lottery system.
"Based on the 18 additional, and the 35 that applied at some point on the first day, my recommendation would be to enter those 53 into a lottery for an additional 25 permits," he said. "Then we shut the door, because sooner or later we have to do that."
But Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma had a unique remedy to offer.
"This is not necessarily a solution to the existing (issue)," he said, "but it may provide an alternative to some of those that may be precluded from coming and visiting our beaches."
Walma was talking about a "beach-in-a-box" program, emulating the township's camp-in-a-box program run last year.
"The concept of this one would be a beach-in-a-box," he said. "You can purchase a package that includes parking pass for the day and gift cards for local businesses. Not only are we opening up the beach to visitors, but we're also sort of forcing people to spend money locally."
Mayor George Cornell said he liked the idea but he wanted to send it back to staff for a report on how it would work.
As for the parking permit problem at hand, he said he was of two minds.
"Do you do all 53 in a lottery system or do you give the 18 permits and lottery the balance?" asked Cornell. "We need to look at this and prepare for next year so we don't have a challenge next year."
With council consensus, it was decided that staff would do a lottery distribution of an additional 25 permits for the 53 applications received on April 1.
The motion will be approved by council at a future meeting.
Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com