After nearly seven years of reports, several motions, a bylaw that reached second reading and numerous public consultations, if looks like changes are coming to the way parking is handled in The Avenues.
Moose Jaw City Council has adopted a new motion that will limit on street parking to one side on ten blocks near Sask Polytechnic. The areas were chosen because the streets are just barely over 7 meters wide.
"We want to be able to get the fire department and ambulance services to people's homes and that's why we're doing this." said Transit Manager Mark Sture at a meeting of Executive Committee Monday night. City Hall had expected a very large turn out of concerned residents so the meeting was held in council chambers but attendance was nothing out of the ordinary, with less than a handful of people in the gallery.
The ten blocks selected barely allow for emergency vehicles to get down with just one vehicle parked on the street, let alone vehicles on both sides. But that didn't prevent some residents from arguing the safety risk at the public consultations.
"One of the things that we heard was 'fire trucks can go down my street so what's the issue?' and we countered that by saying yes, the fire trucks can get down your street but the firefighters need to be able to get out of the truck, access the cubbyholes, access their equipment and be able to fight the fire."
Sture also noted that the issue of parking congestion isn't necessarily a 24 hour a day problem. Sask Polytechnic plays a major factor in the issue but the school doesn't seem willing to assist in any way, at least not in the conversations they've had so far.
"There is an empty parking lot on MacDonald (Street) and that is an issue that Sask Poly has to come to terms with. It's not something that we have a lot of power to mandate what they charge or don't charge."
Councillor Chris Warren noted that when he went to school there several years ago, they didn't charge for parking and he can't remember a time where he needed to park on the street. The neighbourhood issue has only come to a head since pay parking was implemented at the school and students looked for alternative options, finding parking in the near by streets.
While past motions and even a bylaw called for most of the streets in the area to go to either one side parking or a parking permit format, this new motion would be for just one side, first come first serve parking on ten blocks as a pilot project. Sture made note that there are many other streets in Moose Jaw that are at what's considered an unsafe width of nine meters and will need to be addressed in the future.
The pilot project streets are the 10 and 11 hundred blocks of Henleaze, 10 and 12 hundred blocks of 5th Ave NW, 400 block of Ross Street West, 9 and 10 hundred blocks of Algoma and Connaught along with the 1100 block of 6th Ave NW. No timeline for the changeover to one side parking has been established since administration will have to create a new bylaw.
One of the residents who spoke at the meeting Monday raised concerns about having to park across the street in the winter time, asking how he was supposed to plug in his vehicle and questioned the idea of having to ask his neighbour to allow him to run an extension cord to their home and use their power. Councillor Warren pointed out, it's against the law right now to do it in front of your own home since there's a bylaw that prevents power cords from being strung across the sidewalk.
For more on the new bylaw, you can read the Executive Committee report.