Parking bylaw questioned again in North Huron

·2 min read

NORTH HURON – Rachel King, general manager of the Blyth Festival, spoke to North Huron council about the two-hour parking limit included in bylaw No. 91-2022, which provides regulations and parking enforcement and was on the agenda for renewal at the Sept. 19 regular council meeting.

King talked about how Stratford extended their downtown parking to four hours to accommodate its festival goers and how the decision has helped businesses economically.

King explained that a typical show at the Blyth Festival is approximately two hours, plus admission time. If the bylaw were enforced, she fears people would arrive just before the show, leave directly afterward, and not enjoy the village’s restaurants, bars, bed and breakfasts, and local attractions.

Council discussed the enforcement issue, saying that even though there is a two-hour limit, there isn’t anybody to issue tickets or warnings.

Reeve Bernie Bailey told the Wingham Advance Times that this subject has been before council previously. No changes were made at that time, but this time he feels a public meeting is in order so staff can gather information and the next council can make an informed decision on the length of time people can park in the downtown cores of Blyth and Wingham.

Coun. Kevin Falconer said, “I’m just curious as to us having a bylaw for a timed parking when we have no enforcement. We don’t have a metre maid going around chalking tires.”

Deputy Mayor Trevor Seip said that because of the township’s size, these bylaws are enforced through a “complaint-driven process.”

“I honestly want to thank the Blyth Festival,” said Seip, “in the sense that providing some information and feedback as to what their concerns are, I think they are valid.”

He said it is not the intention of staff or council to “deter economic development in Blyth.”

Bailey reminded council that they have to keep in mind the “shopkeepers on that main street that have to make a living…we have to take care of them too.”

Seip brought up the hours in effect since 2012, noting that the restricted hours are during the day, not a standard time for festival goers to use the downtown parking.

Councillors discussed alternatives to street parking, like the municipal parking lot and new spaces coming “around the corner” (the former Blyth Fire Department and public works buildings) and the current enforcement policies.

The motion on the floor to accept the bylaw as written failed. Staff is now tasked with holding discussions with the Blyth Festival, the Blyth and Wingham BIAs (as this is a North Huron bylaw), and other community groups. Additionally, council directed staff to hold a public consultation or meeting soon to gather information from the township’s constituents.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times