By John Francis, Bruce Peninsula Press
Parking restrictions have arrived at Northern Bruce Peninsula. The success of the paid parking program at Tobermory has encouraged the municipality to implement similar programs at several other locations for 2021.
The headline story is Lion’s Head, but there will also be paid parking at Dyers Bay, Borchardt Road (Cape Chin North) and Carter Road (Cape Chin South).
In all cases, parking is free for residents and cottage owners. The familiar blue plastic tag, hanging from the rearview mirror, entitles residents and cottagers to free parking — but only if they can find a space. Residents can still be ticketed if they fail to obey time limits or parking restrictions.
Many Facebook posts ask: “But how will I get my Resident’s Pass in time for the May 15 implementation?”
I asked Municipal CAO Peggy Van Mierlo-West how this program will be rolled out. “We’ve already seen an onslaught of people submitting their credentials,” she explained. All that’s needed — by mail, email or hand-delivered envelope — is a copy of your Driver’s Licence and vehicle ownership, plus proof that you own or rent a dwelling in MNBP. If your Drivers Licence shows MNBP as your address, that’s good enough for proof of residency. Every dwelling/household is entitled to two parking passes per property. These passes are registered to the vehicle and are non-transferable. If a resident requires additional passes, it is a $50.00 charge per pass. Non-resident passes are $100 per season.
Parking tags are issued for a single vehicle. They may not be used with a different vehicle.
The signs say that paid parking begins on May 15, but that will only matter in Tobermory. The new programs will not be formally passed by Council until May 10, and then they need to be approved by the Crown (Ontario) before they can be implemented.
So the new programs will probably “go live” on May 21, just in time for Victoria Day Weekend. The CAO assures taxpayers that the municipality will make this work, by re-allocating staff or using summer staff, to make sure people get their blue tag in time.
But the expansion to paid parking is not the whole story. MNBP is also cutting back on where cars can be parked.
“Too many parked cars” has been a common complaint in Northern Bruce Peninsula in recent years, especially on Moore Street in Lion’s Head and on Big Tub Road, Dunks Bay Road and Grant Watson Drive in Tobermory.
MNBP eliminated parking on Moore Street last summer and the results were surprisingly good. Vehicular traffic was dramatically reduced, which improved safety for walkers. Parking problems were almost eliminated.
Encouraged by that success, MNBP will be implementing similar restrictions on Grant Watson Drive, Big Tub Road and Dunks Bay Road as well as at “The Gap”, the shoreline access at the intersection of Highway 6 and Big Tub Road. In each case, the parking restrictions are coupled with time restrictions in an effort to solve multiple problems.
Shoreline access points at these locations have been overcrowded — sometimes “grossly overcrowded” — for years. There are safety problems on the roads as pedestrians, a row of parked cars and two lines of traffic compete for the same narrow roadway. There are access problems for emergency vehicles when heavy traffic and parked cars block the roadway. There are constant crowding and enforcement problems at the shorelines as well. In daytime, people set up barbeques and shelters, inflate rafts and other water toys, launch rafts and small boats. In the evening, the shorelines are used for parties and fireworks.
New signage at all four locations states “Area Closed At 9PM”, which will eliminate problems with fireworks and parties.
Parking restrictions vary, with slightly different solutions at each location.
Grant Watson Drive (access to Mermaids Cove/Burnt Point) will be posted No Parking on both sides of the road. There are half a dozen spaces at the end of the road that are reserved for residents with blue parking tags.
The parking area on Big Tub Road has been substantially reduced to 25 spaces along the road. No spaces are reserved for residents.
Parking on Dunks Bay Road has been reduced. Six spaces by the cemetery have been reserved for residents.
The Gap is posted No Parking.
Another new development for 2021: provisions for towing violators. In previous years, many visitors were dismissive of MNBP’s parking fines — “I pay more than that to park at Maple Leaf Gardens” was one comment. The new parking bylaw has “teeth”; any vehicle illegally parked may be towed and impounded at the discretion of the Bylaw Enforcement Officer.