Northeast council debates downtown parking times, re-sets them at 4 hours

LITTLE CURRENT—The Northeast Town council has made a decision to change the parking limit in downtown Little Current from two hours to four hours, plus change the parking in the post office parking lot to 24 hours (previously it was 24 hours on the north side and two hours on the south side).

The Little Current Business Improvement Area (BIA) sent a letter to council requesting the two changes.

The BIA originally requested the two-hour parking limit after concerns that individuals and downtown business employees were parking in front of businesses all day, making it difficult for customers to find parking, especially in the busy summer months.

The Northeast Town council made a motion to limit parking on downtown Water Street to two hours and hired CanCom Security to enforce the bylaw this summer.

Over the summer the BIA explained they had received negative feedback about the time limit from visitors and tourists who expressed that two hours was not “sufficient time to explore the shops, enjoy a meal and walk along the docks.”

The parking limit also resulted in many letters to the editor in this newspaper citing similar concerns.

Due to the feedback, the BIA passed a motion at its September 23 meeting, reading: “The Little Current BIA requests the Northeast Town amend its municipal parking bylaw for the downtown (Water Street East) to allow for a four hour limit and to amend the post office parking area limit (both the north and south parking ranges) to allow for 24-hour parking there.”

“My way of thinking is to do away with any time limit all together,” said Councillor Bill Koehler in response to the BIA’s request. “The problem will still be there if we change it to four hours. People will still complain that it isn’t long enough.”

Councillor Marcel Gauthier agreed stating that the two-hour limit has been an “irritant.”

“The BIA has given us a half-way solution,” said Mayor Al MacNevin. “I don’t think that what they have proposed is unreasonable.”

“I strongly believe the number of complaints will drop if we change it to a four-hour limit, plus changing the post office parking lot to 24 hours is a good compromise,” added Councillor Michael Erskine. “This is what the BIA requested and I think we should honour their request.”

Councillor Koehler put a motion forward to amend the parking bylaw to remove the two-hour parking restriction in downtown Little Current along Water Street East and to change the parking limit throughout the Northeast Town to 24 hours unless otherwise designated. The motion was seconded by Councillor Gauthier.

In a recorded vote the motion was carried by Councillors Laurie Cook, Marcel Gauthier, Bill Koehler, Melissa Peters and Paul Skippen. Councillors Michael Erskine, Dawn Orr, Bruce Woods and Mayor Al MacNevin voted again the motion.

Councillor Erskine put a second motion on the table, seconded by Councillor Cook, to designate the area currently posted with a two hour limit along Water Street East to a four hour limit, explaining the motion just passed was to designate all parking in the municipality as 24 hours, unless otherwise designated.

“You can’t just tab on another motion just because someone wasn’t paying attention,” said Councillor Koehler.

“You guys are getting your way by twisting it,” added Councillor Gauthier.

“Democracy is not always simple,” replied Mayor MacNevin, adding that with the proposed designation, the post office parking lot would remain under a 24-hour parking limit.

In a recorded vote, a motion was carried to designate the parking along Water Street East, currently posted with a two-hour limit, to a four-hour limit. Councillors Laurie Cook, Michael Erskine, Dawn Orr, Paul Skippen, Bruce Wood and Mayor MacNevin carried the motion. Councillors Marcel Gauthier, Bill Koehler and Melissa Peters voted against the new designation.