Downtown parking issue moves forward
Extending parking in Strathmore's downtown region has been moved forward after the most recent town council meeting on Feb. 21. The council gave the downtown parking bylaw amendment two readings during the meeting, with the third and final reading to likely be voted over at the next regular council meeting.
The town council voted in favour of the first and second readings with a 4-2 vote.
A number of downtown businesses have indicated their wish to extend the downtown parking limit from two hours to three hours. There was a period of debate during the council meeting about the number of businesses who wished for the expansion of parking hours, and the validity of an informal petition of businesses that was forwarded to council for review.
Councillor Bob Sobol explained that he did not bring the issue of downtown parking to the council table of his own accord. “Anyone who was present at the May 2017 downtown seminar hosted by the town would have heard a number of interested business people discuss the woes of having a two-hour parking limitation,” said Sobol
“This was yet another example of our town reaching out to obtain feedback from our downtown business people,” he said. He noted that some business owners stated that the parking limit negatively impacted their business, which lead to the informal petition.
“Many find a two-hour parking limit too restrictive,” he said. He explained that he hoped the three-hour parking limit could be a compromise between no restrictions on parking, which some preferred, and the two-hour parking limit.
The issue of downtown parking and a potential change to the two-hour restriction in the downtown area was raised by a local business owner at the Feb. 7 council meeting. There it was noted that there is ample off-street parking. It should be noted that there is a town parking lot, parking at Kinsmen Park, and store-front parking downtown, but some downtown lots are private property, which are reserved for patrons. For example, the former Co-op lot is reserved for patrons of the new property on Second Street and Third Avenue, like students of Bow Valley College.
Councillor Tari Cockx said she agreed with Sobol and that the three-hour parking increase wouldn't hurt. “My concern is, is this going to come back to us in six months?” she said. Councillor Denise Peterson noted that in her four years on town council, she could recall the issue coming before council at least six times previously. She was not in favour of the bylaw amendment as it stood.
She noted that the petition that was submitted to council had names of businesses that are no longer operating in downtown Strathmore. “There were some very obvious omissions,” she said.
“One of the ways I would like to see this settled, is by either the downtown business association, or the Chamber, or some other come up with a 75 per cent consensus with a legitimate petition and that they present it before council,” she said.
Councillor Jason Montgomery explained that he was not in favour of the change to the time restriction for parking in the downtown.
“I don't agree with the petition asking to remove time restricted parking downtown. I think it's impractical and does not demonstrate or protect the value of the spaces to the health of all of the businesses and economic activity downtown,” he said.
Councillor Melanie Corbeill noted that some of the businesses downtown require parking that exceeds two hours, for example for patrons attending medical appointments, or at hair salons.
“Some of the business owners on here need it for their business because two-hours is not long enough,” she said.