Business seeks relief from parking woes 0
The city of Pembroke has placed parking restrictions on the Pembroke Memorial Centre, in anticipation of students seeking free parking near Algonquin College’s new campus. For more community photos, please visit our website photo gallery at www.thedailyobserver.ca.
Efforts by the city of Pembroke to maintain better control over parking ahead of the opening of the new Algonquin College campus have led to some challenges for at least one local business.
EGM Insurance, located at the corner of Frank Nighbor and Lake Streets, is a favourite place for hockey fans attending the Pembroke Memorial Centre to park, and the business doesn’t mind. In return, its employees park at the PMC during regular business hours, in order to leave their lot open for their clients to use.
However, because of the city’s decision to restrict PMC parking to those using the arena only, under the threat of fines and towing, the business can no longer do this, and so have appealed to the city for relief.
A decision on that request has been tabled to give the city more time to ponder the matter.
On Tuesday, Lisa Edmonds, broker-owner of Edmonds Gallagher McLaughlin Insurance Brokers Limited, addressed the planning and waterfront committee, saying she was hoping the city will continue to let their employees use 15 parking spots at the PMC lot.
“We have been located at these premises for over 30 years,” she said, and they had what is felt as “a wonderful working relationship” where they allow the EGM lot to be used for overflow parking during the weekend and evenings, in exchange for being allowed to use the PMC lot. Those occasions include Pembroke Lumber King games, the fiddling and stepdancing contest, the circus, home shows, trade shows, the Silver Stick and other hockey tournaments, and the Options career and job fair.
Ms. Edmonds said they are trying to be good neighbours, but now with this parking situation, they don’t know what they are going to do, and hope to be able to work with the city to find a solution.
Colleen Sauriol, planning and building department manager, said EGM has been offered the use of the Cockburn lot, where many downtown employees park for free, or they could buy permits for the Alexander Street lot, across from Giant Tiger. It would be up to council if different arrangements are to be considered.
Coun. Les Scott said he felt this was a very reasonable request, considering the ongoing and long-term reciprocal relationship the city and EGM have enjoyed up to now. He suggested the business’ staff be issued parking permits to allow them to continue to use the PMC lot from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays as they have always done.
Coun. Pat Lafreniere said she is concerned about the precedent of allowing the company to use these spaces, because if EGM can park there, others would surely demand the same treatment. Since there are alternatives close by, she isn’t sure it is worth the risk to grant this exception.
Coun. Scott responded that council can decide on a case- by-case basis. He said he hopes the city’s actions will encourage Algonquin College to follow suit and manage its parking lots as well.
Coun. Dan Callaghan said he is concerned about the city giving away 15 parking spots without consulting the Pembroke Parking Authority, which relies on the revenue from the sale of parking permits and the meters.
“We need to give this a lot more thought before opening the door to a flood of requests from businesses seeking free parking,” he said.
Coun. Bob Hackett, who represents the city on the parking authority, said they would like to have a chance to discuss this matter.
“It seems the use of permits will be what is needed here,” he said. “but if we just give away free permits, it’ll lead to problems.”
Coun. Gary Severin suggested this be tabled for now to give both council and the parking authority time to consider the request, and its potential impacts, before making a decision.
The parking restrictions came about as the city tries to come to terms with the impact on downtown parking the new waterfront campus will have once it officially opens its doors, sometime this fall.
The concern has been students attending the college will park off campus in order to avoid paying, and instead take up spaces usually used by customers and employees of downtown businesses.
Back in July, the planning and waterfront committee decided to head this off by restricting parking at the PMC, by both posting signage warning of fines and towing for anyone who parks there who isn’t using the arena, and to block off access to the overflow lot across the street when it is not in use.
They also agreed to leave the Cockburn Parking Lot, located near the waterfront amphitheatre, as an all-day free lot, while monitoring the situation over the next few months.
The Pembroke Parking Authority is scheduled to meet Thursday, Oct. 18 at noon in the city council chambers.