The Friends of Ryerson Park have been waiting to hear council’s approach to solving their problems since last fall. They heard the proposed solutions Monday night, and are more than content with the recommendations.
Staff appropriately proposed some short-term and long-term solutions to “the rapidly growing issues of safety and traffic flow in our area,” said John Scott, who spoke to councillors Monday night. He was representing the grassroots organization of 204 Niagara-on-the-Lake households, and was there to support the staff recommendations.
He had one request, however, which was to make an immediate adjustment to staff recommendations to allow for parking for visitors and residents on only one side of all the narrow roads in the Chautauqua neighbourhood.
Staff recommended the establishment of a special enforcement area pilot project for Chautauqua, the specific area to be determined. That would allow for an increased penalty of $150 for various bylaw offences in that neighbourhood. The recommendation includes hiring a full-time parking enforcement officer for the period of the pilot project, and having staff report back in the fall, with an overall evaluation addressing measurable results, including penalties issued for various offences and revenue generated, and with recommendations as to whether the enhanced enforcement should be continued in 2022.
After listening to Scott’s presentation, council agreed with the staff recommendations and approved adding the move to parking on one side of the street only, as part of the pilot project. At operation manager Sheldon Randall’s request, they also approved banning parking on either side of the streets as they approach certain intersections to allow for clear sight lines.
Other requests, such as limiting the hours of the park, and additional signage related to permitted uses and facilities, are already in progress with temporary signs. Permanent signage to be installed once community feedback can be evaluated, the staff report said.
Restructuring traffic flow within the Chautauqua area and the Mississagua Street at the Queen Street intersection, including signage, reducing the speed limit, and a no-stopping tow-away zone, are still being considered.
“We were very pleased with council’s adoption of the staff’s recommendations, together with our request for an immediate adjustment to allow parking for both residents and visitors on only one side of the road. Council’s deliberations and welcome decision is the culmination of a tremendous amount of dedicated work by the community, Councillors and Town Staff over the past year. We are confident that the approved short-term remedies will be extremely helpful and auger well for longer-term solutions to be considered in the months ahead.”
Also on Monday, Scott clarified concerns raised by some councillors regarding the traffic safety lawn signs which several Chautauqua residents recently started using. The signs were developed by a small group of young people who grew up in NOTL, live in Chautauqua, Scott said. The signs were paid for by a number of community contributions, he told councillors.
“The group developed the signs because of the significant concerns area residents have repeatedly raised regarding excessive speed, traffic volume and noise pollution created by souped-up vehicles and open-pipe motorcycles. The signs are individually owned, and placed by member households. However, each participant has been asked to put them out only on high-traffic days,” said Scott.
The signs first appeared on Mother’s Day weekend because the group believed that would be the start to higher summer traffic volumes. “We guarantee that the only thought of our members was to address the critical concerns of safety in the community. We also assure you that there was no intention to coordinate the timing with your consideration of the staff report. We are not professional lobbyists – just concerned citizens trying to do the right thing for our community.”
He said the signs have been helpful, with traffic noticeably slower.
“We are certainly open to alternative, practical suggestions anyone may have to address excessive speed, at least until town staff can develop a permanent solution.”
Scott thanked staff for extensive work that was thorough and professional, and applauded “the deliberate process undertaken.” Members “are fully supportive of the three-phased (short, medium and long term) approach to address several of the more difficult issues,” he added.
The staff report, Scott said, “is inclusive, and strikes the right balance for everyone living in or visiting our beautiful town. It truly is a report that deserves the respect of this community.”