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The agenda is once again on the light side in terms of the number of items, although there are a couple of items of the agenda that will have longer term implications for the Town; Trails Master Plan adoption (9.1.1) and Free Parking Downtown (9.2.1),

I still have an issue with the Trails Master Plan. The recommendation is to change the name of the Rotary Algonquin Regiment Fitness Trail to Waterfront Trail. This is to make it shorter and more easily fit on signs. In my opinion this is a slap in the face to the Rotary Club and the Algonquin Regiment whose support was critical to the creation of the trail. If the name needs to be changed for the sake of brevity lets call it the Rotary Algonquin Regiment Waterfront Trail. This can then be shortened to Waterfront Trail without any confusion unless we plan on having multiple Waterfront trails. Would Staff suggest that the future Francis Pegahmagabow Monument be renamed to the “Indian Monument” so that it will fit better on signage? Come on, let’s remember to properly honour the organizations and individuals who have contributed to our Town and our Country. I think we are creative enough to solve simple signage challenges. We are, aren’t we? Disclosure, I have no affiliation with either the Rotary Club or the Algonquin Regiment Fitness Trail, although I do appreciate their many contributions to Parry Sound and Canada.

The Free Parking direction tidies up what was presented to Council in October. I don’t support free parking, but it seems you can’t fight Town Hall. Well I guess you can as we have seen, but as the French would say, “J’ai d’autres chats à fouetter”. I do have a bit of a rant below in 9.2.1, and will be making a deputation on this subject.

Letters

4.1 – Dan Dugan, Parry Sound District Manager, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Re: Notification that MNRF will not be pursuing a wetland evaluation located in the area of Louisa Street, as previously stated in April of this year. The MNRF has basically said – we’ll forgo formally evaluating the land on the understanding that Parry Sound will provide appropriate stewardship for this sensitive wetland. And they seemingly intend to hold the Town responsible for any deviation from best practices.

Resolution and Direction to Staff

9.1.1 – Trails Master Plan Adoption. Resolution. That Council adopt the Trails Master Plan, as prepared by Plan by Design, 2015 and as attached in Schedule “A”. Direction (For Direct Staff Follow-Up): That staff be directed to prepare a Trails Master Plan implementation plan for Council’s consideration. This is a reasonable plan in my opinion. The issue of ATV access for Parry Sound residents was punted for future discussion as part of a by-law that would lift the current ATV restrictions in Town. Seems reasonable in my opinion. The issue of private trails was also punted. Yup, if you close your eyes there really isn’t an issue. If you keep them closed for too long you tend to fall asleep. Bad things happen if you fall asleep on the job.

9.2.1 – Free Parking Downtown. Direction. That Council direct staff to amend the Traffic By-law to:

  • Allow permit parking: 12 parking spaces in St Andrews Lot; 8 parking spaces Gibson Street Lot; 8 parking spaces Miller Street Lot; 6 parking spaces in James Street Lot and 3 on Gibson Street (behind the Post Office)
  • Allow for 6 residential overnight tenant permit parking spaces on Mary Street adjacent to the Post Office (taxi stand)
  • Allow for the procurement of a day use parking permit (contractors, film crew etc.) at $8.00/day/parking space and $4.00/half day/parking space
  • To allow for the continuation of free parking – 2 hours on street and 3 hours in the municipal lot and to make it an offence if an individual re-parks their vehicle within a designated zone or street.
  • To create designated free long term parking: 7 parking spaces on Mary Street, 8 parking spaces on north Miller, 30 spaces on south Gibson Street: and

Further that Council direct staff to create a policy pertaining to the procuring of short term (daily) parking permits for contractors, special event organizers, film crews and day users, etc.; and That Council direct staff to commence the process to hire a contract Parking Attendant on a one-year contract to complete enforcement of the time limit regulation. This process would include a job description and a review of said job description by the Hay Group with this position being implemented in January of 2016.

Let’s not call it ‘free parking’. It’s taxpayer subsidized parking. The cost for 2016 will be on the order of $150,000, with $60,000 budgeted for staff to ensure that ‘free parking’ is not abused. Come on folks, if it’s going to be free then let it be free and wide open. If the merchants want to use the parking spots for their own use, and inconvenience customers and clients, let them. I’m sure they will figure out pretty quickly that they are slitting their own wrists and undermining the purpose of ‘free parking’. And if visitors and customers want/need to park for more than three hours to shop, attend a movie, or wait for a physician appointment let them. If we are going ‘free’ let’s also allow the system to self regulate. Why spend $60,000 on a parking attendant for ‘free parking’ when that money could be used to support local organizations. And do parking attendants really make $60,000 per year? That seems a pretty rich salary, presumably including benefits, by my estimate of what employees in the private, but perhaps not public, sector are paid in the Parry Sound area.

By-laws

10.2.2 – Amendments to Traffic By-law. Being a By-law to amend the Traffic Bylaw 2013-6205, a bylaw to regulate and control traffic in Parry Sound. There are a number of issues addressed with this by-law amendment, most notably providing for pedestrian safety in the area of the new school on Beatty Street. See the full agenda package for the details.

I will be at the meeting this Tuesday and expect to make a deputation on the issue of free parking, and the $60,000 cost to monitor compliance. Sigh!

There is more on the agenda than what was mentioned above, including approvals for cleaning contracts and such. Check out the full agenda in the link in the menu above if you want to know everything. Or contact the Town of Parry Sound and have them send you a copy of the full agenda package.

Eyes Wide Open (Parry Sound in Full colour)

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