Council asked staff about increasing the number of available non-resident parking permits during its discussion around the updated parking strategy.
"I would suggest it would be opportune to revisit the maximum number of non-residents parking permits we issue," said Coun. Tony Mintoff. "We’ve heard a lot of complaints from our neighbouring municipalities about the number, so perhaps we could look at increasing that number before May."
The complaints he was referring to came after Tiny announced it would continue into this year with a permit-only parking campaign and increase parking fines to $75 for on-time payment and $90 for delayed payment. The issue was also highlighted in a MidlandToday column.
"The number went up by 25 permits to 175 from 150," said Steve Harvey, chief municipal law enforcement officer. "Last year, we sold out on June 17. The 25 that we increased last time didn’t seem to rock the boat, so to speak, on the issue, but whether council wants to raise it is in their hands."
Mintoff wasn't entirely convinced.
"I appreciate what you’re saying it’s a council decision, but by the same token staff is fully aware of the concerns we’ve received from people," he said. "My expectation would be that staff should be bringing together a report and making recommendations."
So Harvey complied.
"In 2019, when we looked at that, we had the opportunity to better track people that were coming in to look for permits," he said. "This year, with the office being closed, we didn’t have that opportunity available. At this point, I would recommend they go up by another 25 and take a look at what the benefit or drawback came from that."
One again, Mintoff wasn't convinced.
"I don’t know if there’s any rationale for just jumping it by 25," he said. "I would suggest the number needs to be a bit higher than that."
There were also differing views on the matter.
"I believe we were also looking at using technology to decrease the number of permits we have and making them renewable on a daily permit basis so that there are a more affordable option for our neighbours," said Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma, adding, "I don’t think that adding a specific number isn’t necessarily the right course of action either. If there is nothing else to do, theoretically if we give out 300 permits, then everybody with a permit could show up on a really sunny day because there’s nowhere else to go."
He also made a suggestion about how the township could share the responsibility of distributing more permits with neighbouring municipalities.
"That being said, maybe we could even do an adhoc until we can figure out the technological or app portion of it," said Walma. "Maybe we give the number of additional passes to our municipalities and let them administer that program."
Coun. Cindy Hastings said she did not want to revisit the entire conversation, but would like the steps to be revisited at the end of the pandemic.
"We’ve increased the parking fines and it was done as a direct result last year when people were paying the fine to spend a full day at the beach," she said. "I’d like us to revisit this post-pandemic."
Harvey said it's a move many other municipalities have made.
"I suspect most municipalities will stay at that spot and not lower the fines," he added. "Whether it’s the pandemic or not, this is the appropriate step for this year. We need to re-check it at the end to see if this was sufficient or we need to go further as we go along."
The new strategy was ratified by council at its meeting later the same day and staff were directed to report back on the options around the potential increase in the number of non-resident parking permits.
Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com