Town hires a private security firm to patrol sidewalk parking over the next few weeks
LITTLE CURRENT – Following a citizen complaint about the high incidence of vehicles blocking sidewalks and, in some cases even intersections, Northeast Town council has again decided to utilize an outside security firm to ticket those drivers who are breaking the bylaw.
In a letter to Councillor Al Boyd, which was shared with council, Zak Nicholls of Little Current writes, “It has once again come to my attention that automobile parking in Little Current has become an issue for pedestrians and cyclists. I take my children out daily for walks and bike rides and we are finding that vehicles are parking directly over sidewalks, or at the corner of intersections with the vehicle extending into the intersection. Often this is occurring kitty corner to the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) station. I am assuming that parking enforcement would fall under the responsibility of the town.”
“Our family is extremely courteous of others when we walk or cycle, but find our safety is being placed at risk when vehicle owners are not discouraged from parking in non-parking areas,” Mr. Nicholls continued. “Signage is sufficient, but it appears there is no mechanism for enforcement. I feel this will only get worse without a measured response from the community. It seems fair to say this is a tourist season issue, although I do not infer blame on them.”
“There is an issue with people parking on sidewalks,” said CAO Dave Williamson. “When people report it, we will dispatch the Chief Building Official (CBO), but we don’t have the resources to have someone do that full-time.” The CAO suggested to council that they could hire a private security firm to ticket those drivers breaking the bylaw as they have done in the past. (In 2015, the Northeast Town hired a security firm to ticket vehicles parked downtown for more than two hours. After a great hue and cry from visitors to the downtown and from the Business Improvement Area [BIA], the bylaw was changed to four hours and stopped being enforced.)
“When you write the ticket, you need to be prepared to pay for the prosecution,” Mr. Williamson warned council, noting that a $16 ticket could end up costing $1,000. “Our target has always been voluntary compliance.”
Councillor Michael Erskine said he recalled a time when the municipality had cars towed that were illegally parked on sidewalks. Mayor Al MacNevin pointed out that someone would still need to issue a ticket before a vehicle could be towed.
Councillor Barb Baker asked how many people the municipality took to court.
“None,” Mr. Williamson replied. “We chose not to. The $16 just wasn’t worth it.”
Councillor Bill Koehler said something had to be done about it, pointing to the area between the Edgewater Pharmacy and the former Kool-It Ice building as a particularly bad spot for perpetrators.
It was suggested that a warning be issued in the weekly Northeast Town ad found on Page 11 of this newspaper, urging people to report violators.
“If we’re going to enforce it, we’re going to have to spend some money,” the mayor said.
“If we’re going to go that route, we’re going to have to make it (the fine) more substantial,” added Councillor Bruce Wood.
“I agree that making the fine higher makes it more of an infraction,” said Councillor Dawn Orr, suggesting a drop-off zone for boaters along the aforementioned portion of Water Street.
Councillor Baker suggested enforcement of 10 hours a week. Mr. Williamson said that would come at a cost of $300 should council choose to hire a private security firm. He further suggested that this be done on a trial basis for a few weeks.
Councillor Koehler asked how many managers are designated as bylaw officers. Mr. Williamson responded four. The councillor then asked why they couldn’t ticket when they see violations happening.
“They’re out doing construction, they’re out doing their day job,” Mr. Williamson responded. “They have full-time jobs. It would be exceedingly difficult.”
“This sends a clear message to the community that this is not acceptable,” Mr. Williamson said.
A motion to hire a security firm for the next few weeks, to ticket bylaw violators, was passed.