Letter: Parking In Tobermory


Less Spaces, Zero Communication, Shoddy Enforcement

After a conversation in early to mid-May, it was brought to our attention that the Municipality had made decisions regarding the parking on the south side of Little Tub Harbour and in front of the former Peacock’s Foodland property after their Special Council Meeting Road Tour. They did so without any consultation with the local businesses who are directly affected by this decision. In response, a number of us wrote letters to the Municipality with our concerns. Only two of these ended up being included in their agenda, neither of which got a response from any member of Council. 

We have been asking for years for the parking on the south side of the harbour to be returned to regular use. Each time we’ve asked, we’re given a different excuse as to why it couldn’t be. Aside from the year we had high water, there has been no legitimate or consistent answer. The most frequent reason seems to be that it’s “not safe” for pedestrians with vehicle traffic – yet the boat operators and their visitors are allowed to pull in and out freely all day. Why can’t it be opened back up for regular use with a few spots near the docks dedicated to the boat staff?

According to the minutes in the Press’s issue #8, discussion ensued regarding the parking spaces located by the previous Peacocks Foodland, and Council directed staff to remove those spaces. Was this voted on? What was the reasoning for this? We’ve been told it is again for pedestrian safety, but they have since put benches in the parking spaces facing out onto the street in front of the boat launch. How is it safer for people to be sitting on an open roadway where vehicles are backing up with trailers all day, than it would be for them to enjoy the ample space and seating in the new parkette protected by parked cars? Our visitors come here to escape the city and enjoy our natural spaces, not to sit in parking lots and roadways.

A simple solution could be to put the concrete bumpers used elsewhere to mark the spots, putting the garbage bins and benches facing into the seating area (the same way they’re situated along the harbour and further down Bay Street), and paint the centre spot as a marked entrance to the space similar to the Crowsnest entrance.

While no direction was given regarding the spaces on the south side of the harbour, one has to assume they’ve decided those are no longer allowed to be used by guests because the municipal/harbour staff have since constructed a gate blocking the access.

Parking, and the lack of available spaces, has been an issue in Tobermory for years. Why is the Municipal response to that to keep removing more parking spots? Why are they making decisions that favour only one particular type of business (marine), while taking away from all the other businesses? This doesn’t just affect downtown businesses; it affects the enjoyment of all our guests when they’re fighting for parking spaces and fighting with faulty parking machines to visit our town.

Our customers rely on being able to park close to the amenities. I understand wanting to make the downtown core more pedestrian friendly, but there are numerous ways to do that without removing vehicle access. Better signage; safe, properly maintained sidewalks; pedestrian crosswalks; marked entrances to pedestrian areas – all examples of simple ways to help pedestrians move around and enjoy the area in a safer manner without removing more parking. 

It is worth mentioning that their very own 2023 maps outlining the paid parking in downtown Tobermory have the south side of the harbour marked as 3-hour paid parking, even though the average visitors have been blocked from using it while the boat operators park there all day.

It is also worth mentioning that when paid parking was implemented in Lion’s Head, the business community pushed back and the Municipality responded in their favour by creating an ideal paid parking model. The businesses in Tobermory have been trying to do the same since its inception and all we get is less spaces, zero communication, and shoddy enforcement.

Lindsey Griffith

Tobermory, ON