North Huron council parks changes to downtown parking bylaw

NORTH HURON – North Huron’s parking bylaw will remain the same, with two-hour parking between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday.

A report from North Huron’s Director of Public Works and Facilities, Jamie McCarthy, said that during the Sept. 19 regular council meeting, Rachel King, general manager of the Blyth Festival, raised concerns regarding the two-hour parking limit on the main street in Blyth. King mentioned the time limit was too restrictive and suggested consideration be given to a four-hour limit on the main street in Blyth.

The festival maintains that a two-hour parking limit doesn’t allow its guests the opportunity to shop or dine locally.

McCarthy reminded council that sidewalks were put in from the community centre to the downtown core at great expense to the township to give festival guests access to unlimited parking.

Coun. Kevin Falconer spoke about one business owner who is against the four-hour parking because their clients wouldn’t be able to park in front of their hair-cutting business if someone was parked there and attending the festival.

The subject of being fined while parked in the downtown core for more than two hours came up, specifically that there wasn’t a dedicated parking bylaw enforcer on staff; the only time parking violations are reported is when a complaint is filed with the township.

Council deferred the bylaw update on Sept. 19, to consult with the local Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) and conduct public consultation regarding the request.

The township’s Economic Development Officer, Demetri Makrakos, reached out to the Wingham BIA and Blyth BIA to ask for feedback on the parking times and administered a survey that was emailed to all businesses that could be affected.

“Over the course of three weeks, nine responses were received,” the report said. “An invitation for BIA members to meet in person was also scheduled at Town Hall to solicit more feedback. Unfortunately, there was no attendance at that meeting.”

Neither BIA Chair expressed support for a four-hour parking limit during these discussions.

Only one person suggested unlimited parking. The rest of the responses were split between Monday to Friday, or Monday to Saturday, and two- or four-hour limits.

One respondent said, “Just request the apartment dwellers to not park on main street during the day.”

Due to the response and the fact that there were so few, staff recommended that the parking duration stay status quo.

“There is not enough demand to warrant changes to the parking bylaw,” the report stated. “There is also a concern that continuing to prolong this bylaw will result in the township’s bylaw enforcement officers not being able to enforce parking restrictions in advance of the winter season.”

The report said that the financial impact of the recommended changes to the parking bylaw would require a few years of monitoring. However, it is expected parking fines and ticketing will increase revenue.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times