Midland returns to paid on-street parking system for new year

With a new council and a new parking system, Midland residents should be ready to handle 11 months of on-street paid parking downtown now that the December shopping month has passed.

On-street parking in the defined area from Yonge St. to Bay St. from Midland Ave. to First St. – including along Bay St. to Second St., as well as the northern side of Bayshore Drive – has returned to normal paid parking regulations as of January 1.

From Monday to Saturday, the cost of parking on-street in those areas is $1 per hour, enforced from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays are free.

At the harbour parking lot, the cost is $1.50 per hour for all seven days of the week.

However, free parking for veteran plates will remain on-going; seniors with a parking pass can also park free at the harbour lot. Parking is also free at all of the downtown 10 lots (excluding the harbour.

Midland Mayor Bill Gordon told MidlandToday via email that the previous term of council had agreed to the mix of paid and free lots as a compromise to the contentious issue of last year, with intent to review and revisit its effectiveness ahead of the 2024 budget cycle.

“Parking revenues help offset the costs of maintaining the lots and parking spaces and provides some revenues to the town that are based on the user-pay model – otherwise it would be entirely supported by ratepayers at large,” said Gordon.

At the Pete Pettersen boat launch, residents are allowed free parking while non-residents must pay a fee.

Said CAO David Denault: “Paid parking is one of the few methods we have as a municipality to allow non-residents to contribute as well to the town’s expenses.”

Through the new kiosk system, a person can pay by inserting coins to receive a ticket, which is used for pay-by-plate enforcement by placing the ticket visibly on their dashboard; debit, credit, and smart-pay options are also available. If using the mobile apps Hotspot or ParkedIn for registered plates, no displayed ticket will be required.

Illegal parking is a $25 fine within Midland, escalating to $30 after seven days; for overnight offenses the fine is $35. In addition, winter restrictions state that no parking is allowed on town streets or in municipal lots between November 15 through April 1.

Payment of parking tickets can be made at the municipal office by cash, credit or cheque; payment by credit card over telephone also exists. An online option for payment is allowed for all tickets except winter restrictions, which does not allow the online component.

“Enforcement is an expectation of anyone who follows rules, or nobody would bother with the rules,” said Gordon. “The fee to park is nominal and free options exist.”

The next return to free parking for the downtown core is scheduled for December, a month where shopping is highly encouraged. When asked if other free parking measures could be implemented for residents and visitors at other times of the year, Gordon weighed the pros and cons.

“From my perspective,” said Gordon, “I would like to see paid special-event parking fees for Butter Tart Festival etc. Visitors won’t mind paying a non-punitive fee to park down in the heart of the festival (in our downtown lots and along Bayshore Dr.) and we can still offer free shuttles from remote lots for those who wish to use that option.

“Parking revenues are important to offset the costs associated with the lots and spaces, and when carefully implemented are simply a normal part of a downtown shopping experience in many communities. I wish we had enough other revenues streams to negate paid parking entirely, but at this point it simply is not a responsible path.”

Denault provided reasoning for staff’s consideration as the pilot project continues throughout 2023.

“Special event parking is something we continue to look at,” said Denault. “The traffic flows and preserving emergency routes with an event like Butter Tart require careful planning, and the team felt we could not effectively implement something new in our first year back from the pandemic.”

Gordon added that finding the balance between affordability and willingness to pay would continue to be worked on throughout the year.

Information on paid parking in Midland, including fees, locations and regulations, can be found on the parking page of the Town of Midland website.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca