Parking restrictions and increased fines are coming to the Chautauqua neighbourhood.
The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake will launch a pilot project in the area around Ryerson Park this summer to increase enforcement of parking infractions, limit parking to one side of designated streets, and determine further action needed to address residents' concerns about traffic and speeding.
“We are very pleased with the staff report” that recommended the changes, said Friends of Ryerson Park member Brian Crow.
“We understand that nothing can be done overnight and that (chief administrator Marnie Cluckie) has to put some good time frames around everything.”
Tickets for some bylaw infractions in Chautauqua will be increased by $150, Lord Mayor Betty Disero said. An extra bylaw enforcement officer will also be hired to accommodate the heightened attention needed in the area.
That will cost the town $31,500, but the increased fines are directly tied to the costs of increasing enforcement in the area, according to a staff report. The fines will be used to help cover costs of enforcement.
A special enforcement area will be implemented in the neighbourhood to allow bylaw officers to enforce these penalties. The exact area is yet to be determined.
“The good news is that it’s an acknowledgment from council that we want this to be a special enforcement area, which will attract higher enforcement resources and, of course, have stronger fines,” Coun. Allan Bisback said in an interview Tuesday.
After several weeks of debate and delegations surrounding issues in the Chautauqua area, staff submitted a report to council on Monday suggesting a number of changes.
The one notable exemption in the staff report was the inclusion of any parking restrictions.
John Scott, representing the Friends of Ryerson Park group, asked council to include those restrictions.
“We understand that the parking remedy that we proposed must be delayed due to logistical limitations,” Scott told councillors.
“We do request that councillors immediately restrict parking for visitors and residents to one side of the road.”
The Friends of Ryerson Park have repeatedly said emergency vehicles are unable to access the area when a lot of cars are parked on the streets.
Fire Chief Nick Ruller said his department does not have any specific concerns about access to the Chautauqua area. He said turning onto the narrow streets can be a problem and that emergency vehicles can find another route if a lot of vehicles are parked on roads.
“I think restricted parking to one side of the street would help to alleviate some of those challenges,” Ruller told council.
Coun. Clare Cameron presented a motion to council to amend the staff report and add parking restrictions to accommodate residents.
The motion was unanimously approved to allow specific parking limitations as outlined in option 1 of the staff report. This would limit parking to one side of the road on almost all of Chautauqua’s narrow street, with original parking restrictions still in effect on parts of Shakespeare Avenue and Niagara Boulevard.
Crow said the restrictions are a good start but worried they might push the traffic onto other nearby streets.
“We are, however, pleased that something is being done right away. We know the chief administrative officer is acting quickly, and we certainly appreciate it,” Crow said.
One of the main concerns of the Friends of Ryerson Park Group was drivers getting lost in Chautauqua as they try to find their way to the QEW after leaving Old Town.
The town will be installing a three-way stop at the bottom of Mississagua and Queen streets. A directional sign pointing to the highway will also be installed to encourage drivers to turn onto Mississagua Street.
“It’s going to be good for us,” said Crow.
The report included several long-term solutions that will be undertaken over the next six months.
One of these measures is to reduce speed limits on Chautauqua’s laneways.
“My street is a 13-foot-wide laneway with no sidewalks. It doesn’t make sense that the speed limit on my laneway is the same as on Mississagua Street,” Crow said.
He says the group would like a 35 km/h speed limit in Chautauqua.
The town is also considering implementing a no-stopping and tow-away zone at the intersection of Niagara Boulevard, Shakespeare Avenue and Vincent Avenue, which is directly next to Ryerson Park.
Bisback stressed this is a pilot project and the changes being implemented are going to be studied over the summer.
“We’re always learning. I think the good thing here is that staff responded to a lot of the concerns of residents,” Bisback said.
“We wanted to get some of the measures in for July and then monitor them over the summer. Everything’s always subject to change once we learn more.”
Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report