Although excessive parking issues are being caused by visitors to Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, it’s local residents who will be footing the bill for traffic and bylaw enforcement.
During its meeting on Oct. 27, Mono council discussed a letter the town recently submitted to park management about the problem.
“It shouldn’t be our taxpayers that are paying for extra policing patrols,” said Mayor Laura Ryan. “We shouldn’t have to be doing bylaw enforcement for parking infractions.”
This isn’t the only year in which people have used the roadside to park their vehicles when the parking lot is full, but with COVID-19, the number of people doing so has increased drastically.
The cliffs are a popular spot to visit, especially at this time of year, and have been promoted by websites such as Narcity, blogTO and Daily Hive as ideal locations for adventures. While these sites have written articles about the spot for several years, people looking to escape the city could be paying closer attention.
The increase in visitors has also increased the amount of poor treatment of local properties, according to some residents.
Cosette Pathak submitted a question to council members, asking what they intend to do to help advocate for more safety during these large gatherings, and explained some of the situations she has dealt with this year.
“Park overflow visitors are using my front lawn as a public toilet,” she told the town. “I had to break up a couple engaging in sexual activity in a car parked directly in front of my property.”
Another resident expressed concerns on a Banner Facebook post about the issue on Oct. 26.
“It is the complete disrespect for other people’s property,” they said. “We had to put up a temporary fence and gate along the front of our farm to keep people (from) using our lawn as a public park and from driving up our driveway. They will just bring the whole family and throw out a picnic blanket on our front lawn.”
Other issues have arisen from the cars lining both sides of the road as well, such as farm equipment and combines struggling to make it down the road.
“There are local agricultural industries that are trying to use the roads network to get from one property to the other. It is becoming exceedingly dangerous,” said Ryan.
Coun. Sharon Martin has travelled down 3rd Line to see how the parking situation is multiple times, and said that the situation is “really bad.”
“Right now, the whole thing is just ridiculous,” said Martin. “Obviously they need to find more space for parking.”
On Oct. 22, Ryan submitted her letter to area park superintendent Jill Van Niekerk, requesting she attend a meeting of council to discuss with them any further steps that could be taken to tackle the problem.
“Parking is a perennial problem during peak seasons with vehicles overflowing onto the roads adjacent to Mono Cliffs Provincial Park,” Ryan stated in her letter. “Roadside parking is clearly a safety concern for both the visitors to the park and those using the roads to get to and from home and work.”
In addition to the letter, Deputy Mayor John Creelman introduced a notice of motion requesting that staff report back to council about parking bylaw options.
“This flows from the concerns expressed about the parking situation approximate to the entrance for Mono Cliffs Park,” he explained.
Staff will be looking at whether parking could be limited to one side of the road, with no-parking signs on the other, or whether both sides should be marked as no-parking zones. They would also look into the possibility of appointing or hiring provincial offences officers to enforce the parking bylaws.
Creelman noted that while the OPP can ticket for bylaw infractions, he’d rather see them focusing on traffic enforcement and other duties that keep the community safe.
A report will be provided to council at its next meeting on Nov. 10, where the town will determine which way to proceed.
Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner