Midland residents want their free back.
Rates for pay-by-plate parking are on the agenda for tonight’s regular meeting of Midland council at 6:00 p.m., and the topic already has townsfolk up in arms.
The report to be presented is a follow-up from the March council meeting in which the municipality approved reducing 14 parking zones in the downtown core to four zones. Those are: Zone 1 for downtown municipal lots; Zone 2 for on-street parking; Zone 3 at Midland Harbour; and Zone 4 at the Pete Pettersen boat launch.
Council had also approved that upon purchase of an initial parking payment, one free hour in Zone 1 or 15 minutes in Zone 2 respectively be added to the time limit.
In the March staff report to council, it was stated that “Midland is the only municipality in Canada with a pay-by-plate parking system that includes free time.” CAO David Denault reinforced that paid parking was one of the few tools a municipality could use to gain revenue from visitors to help offset the tax levy.
Midland residents had previously expressed displeasure with the difficulty curve of the new parking station installations, which town staff and council acknowledged but also implored residents to continue using as the bugs get worked out.
Tonight will see council discussing annual and monthly passes, hourly rates, and feedback regarding a year of data collection on the parking program. Also, the elimination of free time in parking Zones 1 and 2.
The agenda item was raised to awareness by local business Bayshore Lanes which made a social media post on Tuesday, imploring residents to send correspondence to all members of council. At the time of this publication, the post had received over 200 comments and 500 shares, many from irate residents and business owners.
“The new parking system has already hurt our downtown businesses as people are fed up with the machines not working properly, the increase in fees, and no accessibility,” wrote Bayshore Lanes in the post.
Some Midland councillors commented on the public post. Mayoral candidate Bill Gordon stated he would “be arguing to keep the meagre free parking I managed to get passed last year.” Carole McGinn said she wouldn’t advocate for a boycott of downtown businesses as “it will harm our merchants.”
Tonight’s meeting at town hall will be held virtually, closed to members of the public.
The parking system update staff report is available in full in the council agenda on the Town of Midland website.
Further information on pay-by-plate parking in downtown Midland is available on the Town of Midland website.
Council meetings are held every third Wednesday, and can be attended virtually through Zoom by contacting the clerk’s department of Midland town hall for a link to the meeting.
Council meetings can also be viewed on Rogers TV cable channel 53, or through the livestream on the Rogers TV website. Archives of council meetings are available through Rogers TV and on the Town of Midland’s YouTube channel.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca