Last week, after weekend crowds proved that escalated measures to deter out-of-town visitors were ignored, the Town banned all on-street parking within a designated area of Old Town.
This weekend, bylaw officers were issuing tickets, and vehicles were towed.
More than 10,000 vehicles entered the Old Town this weekend, from Mississauga Street and Queen’s Parade, the Town reported Tuesday. Bylaw officers issued 113 parking tickets, and 19 vehicles were towed, with the $200 charge to retrieve it. The tow truck operators are paid by the vehicle owner. “The Town did not pay to have trucks stationed throughout Old Town,” as one social media post reported.
In response to a question about how drivers were able to retrieve their vehicles, the Town said, “if a vehicle is not where the owner left it, the owner can call the police and the police will advise where it was taken. Uber is operating and available to assist people in getting to their vehicles.”
Eight emergency order charges were laid for groups larger than five, and complaints of public urination and defecation continue, although no fines were laid because bylaw officers were unable to catch those reported.
Residents who have parking permits will not be permitted to use them during the parking ban, and those purchased before May 1, with a 2020 expiry date, will be extended by the period of time the ban remains in effect.
There are some accommodations being made, said the announcement. “Vulnerable residents dependent on the care of family and/or support workers remain a high priority for town council and staff. If a ticket is issued to a person providing an essential service, please contact the Town at email@example.com immediately.”
Residents holding a Dedicated Parking Permit will be permitted to park within the banned area, and 15-minute parking zones will be established to accommodate patrons of essential businesses remaining open in Old Town.
The road signs previously situated at main, high-traffic entrances have been relocated “to strategically target out-of-town visitors,” with messaging adjusted to say: “State of Emergency,” “No Facilities Available,” “Parking Enforced,” and “Essential Business Only.”
The parking ban will remain in effect until further notice, Thursday’s announcement says. “It is important to remember the significant risk the spread of COVID-19 poses for Niagara-on-the-Lake. With more than 50 percent of our population over the age of 50, one of the demographics identified as most vulnerable, this human health emergency could be disastrous for our community,” the parking ban announcement says.
“The health and safety of residents, and the public, is the highest priority, and town council and staff are doing all they can to protect against community spread. This health crisis is new territory for everyone, and situations are changing rapidly. As such, adjustments will continue to be made as circumstances evolve.”