By Joanne Rodgers, Bruce Peninsula Press
Paid parking was introduced in Lion’s Head in 2021. The Parking meter fees and parking passes generated $283,012 for the season.
The cost of administering paid parking in Lion’s Head amounted to $182,619. The expenses included by-law enforcement salaries, machine phones, signs, meter charges, mileage and fuel costs and capital costs for the parking meters.
Parking Fees from the McCurdy parking lot contributed $150,000 to the total Lion’s Head revenues, while direct expenses for the parking lot amounted to approximately $17,600.
The aim of paid parking was that the cost of hosting visitors to Lion’s Head would be net zero for taxpayers for Northern Bruce.
Business owners express their concerns on paid parking
At a Special Council Meeting on Dec 13 2021 on Paid Parking, Mayor McIver stated “that Council is balancing the needs of businesses and residents while trying to maintain a strong business community in Lion’s Head. He explained that paid parking helps to cover costs associated with visitors, such as by-law enforcement, portable toilets, and infrastructure.”
However, local business owners expressed their concerns on the implementation of paid parking in Lion’s Head. Local business owners explained that South Bruce Peninsula full-time and seasonal residents from places such as Pike Bay, Hope Bay, Howdenvale support the Lion’s Head stores and they were aghast they now had to pay for parking in Lion’s Head. As a result customer counts were down in 2021.
It was generally understood that the municipal staff had to act quickly to alleviate the problems fuelled by COVID- 19 restrictions in 2020 which saw an exponential increase in visitor traffic to Lion’s Head and the Lion’s Head Lookout in particular. While no one wanted a repeat of the high vehicle and pedestrian traffic that ensued on the roads of Lion’s Head in 2020, business owners felt that they should be consulted on any future paid parking discussions.
Scott Hellyer of Scott’s Home Hardware expressed concern that there be a better understanding as to who are being targeted for paid parking as a means to recoup costs. The current paid parking nets customers, family and friends who wish to shop, spend time on the beach or visit each other. If paid parking is targeted to the transient visitor, then a more strategic approach needs to be applied. Hellyer says if there is two hour free parking, a local can get to beach or to shop, but if a visitor wants to spend the day at the beach, then they could pay for all day parking. He would like to see a Strategic Parking Plan developed to serve as the basis for educated decisions on parking while not impeding business.
Another suggestion was that possible areas be allocated for parking to get the cars off the street to make Lion’s Head look less congested. A monthly financial statement on paid parking would provide data points to determine when and where paid parking was viable, what makes sense and what does not in terms of paid parking. Hellyer would like to see a clear explanation of how revenues collected are being allocated.
Hellyer suggested that some businesses should be supplied with free parking passes for employees. He also noted that seasonal campers were not provided resident parking passes.
Marydale Ashcroft proposes that “there be no paid parking in Lion’s Head and if there are to be paid parking areas it should be focused on the parking lots at the beach, marina, and McCurdy Parking lot; people need to know that they can support local businesses without having to pay for parking.” Ashcroft says that “residents wish to see a revenue stream of some sort to offset the additional costs associated with tourism but not necessarily paid parking.”
The Municipality will host a meeting for local business owners and concerned community members in the upcoming weeks to further discuss the parking situation prior to any final decisions being made on paid parking in Lion’s Head.
To see the minutes of the Special Council Meeting on Dec 13 2021 on Paid Parking, see page 9 of this newspaper.