Townsfolk win as Midland parking soap opera takes dramatic turn

·3 min read

At the end, the CAO and staff received applause from Midland council.

During a special meeting of council, the pay-by-plate parking system was approved to be converted to pay and display by unanimous vote, following the vocal opposition of residents and business owners in the downtown core.

Other key approvals included: Free parking seven days per week in all downtown parking lots, excluding the harbour; free parking in December; free resident parking at Pete Pettersen boat launch; paid on-street parking six days per week at the current rate of $1 per hour; increase the harbour rate to $1.50 per hour; expand paid parking to Bayshore Drive; and seasonal boat-slip parking passes at the harbour, $99 per season effective 2023.

Free parking will continue to be available until September 15 as implementation of the new configuration is made and communicated to the public.

Coun. Cher Cunningham spoke to the necessity of the revised report from the previous council meeting, noting that the issues addressed needed the added time for staff to appropriately process and convey.

“Sometimes, best practices don’t work; sometimes we really need to do ‘Midland practices,' and this report really addresses that,” Cunningham praised.

The pay-and-display option, similar to most other municipalities, will allow vehicle owners to receive a slip of paper to be placed in sight of enforcement staff.

Coun. Bill Gordon cautioned that the lack of ability to track by plates would mean downtown business owners and staff would need to use courtesy in using “the back 40” for parking so that customers can gain access to the closer parking spots.

Mayor Stewart Strathearn noted, “It is ‘first come, first served,' but presumably customers come first.”

Council also approved that the pay-by-plate system be retained, with purchases through the mobile app still available.

Midway through the resolution, Coun. Jonathan Main was proclaiming 2022 as “the summer of fun,” indicating that the BIA had also been in approval of the report. After it was over, Deputy Mayor Mike Ross stood and applauded CAO David Denault with several on council joining in the praise.

Denault assured council and the public that staff had listened to all concerns, and thanked staff for their efforts in finding a compromise.

“A lot of us have been developing policy for a long time, and this was a tricky one,” said Denault. “I know some people felt that (staff wasn’t listening), but I can assure you: We were listening and taking direction all the time.

“It was difficult to find something that struck that right balance, but we did hear everyone.”

Midland staff are expected to roll out a communication strategy over the next while with full details on the parking system changes.

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 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

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