MNBP Reporter’s Notebook: Ontario Resort Communities Try Different Ways to Manage Parking

By John Francis,
Bruce Peninsula Press

The Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula first introduced paid parking in Tobermory in 2017 as a way to pay for the manpower and infrastructure needed to manage the influx of visitors. The intention was to provide funding for washrooms and porta-potties, pay for extra Bylaw Enforcement personnel evenings and weekends and build up a reserve for future improvement projects.

Paid parking has now extended to Dyers Bay, Cape Chin North, Cape Chin South and the Village of Lion’s Head. 

A reserved parking system, possibly involving an entrance gate, is being considered for the Bruce Trail access parking lot at McCurdy Drive (at the S bend on Moore Street, in Lion’s Head). But there are a number of concerns that need to be addressed first, such as, can you run a reserved parking facility without on-site staff and what happens when someone overstays their allotted time? These ideas were discussed at length at MNBP Council’s May 25 Meeting, no firm decision was made although there seemed a consensus that overstaying vehicles would need to be towed.

Other resort communities in Ontario are contending with very similar issues: an exponential increase in the number of visitors coupled with challenges in managing and accommodating the crowds.

South Bruce Peninsula

A recent post from TSBP Mayor Janice Jackson’s Facebook page:

Paid Parking begins on June 1st.

We have increased our rates at [Sauble Beach] this year for two reasons; we were underpriced in comparison to other beach towns and we have legal fees we would like to recoup. Council feels the cost to defend our Town against legal action brought upon us should not come from SBP taxpayers. We will do our best to recoup Sauble litigation through Sauble parking revenue. The daily rate for parking is $30 per day or $7/hr and we are now offering both resident and non-resident season passes. Season passes for residents can be purchased for $50.00 per vehicle (no pro-rating) and can only be purchased by contacting Town Hall (you don’t need to physically travel to Town Hall). Please contact the Clerk’s Department ([email protected]) to arrange for payment and to supply the proof that will be required to determine your residency. The vehicle for a resident pass must belong to the resident and we will need to see your vehicle ownership. The resident pass is available to trailer owners with a seasonal contract in a SBP park.”

There have been a lot of comments on this Facebook post. They make entertaining reading.

Prince Edward County Introduces New Fees & Much Higher Parking Fines

A CTV story last week noted that parking fines in some areas of Prince Edward County have been increased from $35 to $400.

Todd Davis is Prince Edward County’s Director of Community Development & Strategic Initiatives; he generously agreed to an interview. 

The problem, he explained, was that visitors — mainly daytrippers from the GTA, a scant two hours away — were clogging “several tourist hot zones” so badly that emergency vehicles couldn’t get through. With four drowning fatalities last year on their beaches, emergency vehicle access is critical. And to many of those visitors, a $35 parking ticket seemed more like a normal parking fee than a penalty. “The goal was to raise it up to a point where it would be high enough to be a deterrent — for people to not park there.” The tourist hot zones are Lake On A Mountain and the access points to the area’s Provincial Parks and Lake Ontario beaches. For the rest of the county, including the towns of Picton and Wellington, the parking fine remains at $35.

Prince Edward County’s problems are very familiar to MNBP residents — most of them stem from an overabundance of visitors. Davis uses the concept of a “destination carrying capacity” to frame the issue. 

Local ratepayers resent having to pay for the facilities, services and enforcement the visitors require, so County Council amended its Fees And Charges Bylaw in April to put a few new tools in its toolbox for 2021. In addition to the parking fine increase, overnight camping fines will increase from $75 to $500 and an admission charge of $10 per person will be charged at Wellington Beach on weekends and holidays (residents will be issued a pass). A parking fee has also been introduced at all County boat launches.

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For those who are expecting fewer visitors than last year: CAA Magazine’s Summer 2021 issue recommends “5 Destinations to Explore in Ontario this Summer”, promising to guide readers to “Ontario’s hidden gems”. #1 is Tobermory, where you can “soak up some nature on the Bruce Trail or laze on the beach alongside striking blue waters”. #3 is Prince Edward County, where you can enjoy “swimming at Sandbanks Provincial Park”. 

CAA Magazine makes no mention of crowds or parking.

LH Tennis/Pickleball Court

At its May 25 Meeting, MNBP Council authorized an expenditure to repair and repaint the surface of the tennis courts at Bruce Peninsula District School in Lion’s Head, pending an agreement with Bluewater District School Board. 

First Dose Vaccinations In MNBP Approach 80%

Information from the Peninsula Family Health Team indicates that two more vaccination clinics were held in the week of May 28, with almost 80% of the Peninsula now having received their first shot. 

Next Steps: Peninsula Family Health Team is “waiting for updated information from Dr. Arra and Public Health Grey Bruce this week regarding the coordination of the second shot vaccination clinics, as well as Pfizer clinics for children between the ages of 12-18. As soon as we have our plans all lined up, we will reach back out and release the vaccination schedule.”