By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
The members of Cobourg council’s Cobourg’s Community Protection and Economic Development standing committee agreed at this week’s meeting that parking needs to be made easier to understand, and a staff report due to come back in time for the regular council meeting in March will examine the many suggestions that came forward at the meeting.
Though most of the suggestions came from Councillor Lucas Cleveland, whose notice of motion was put forth at last week’s regular council meeting, there was a letter from the Downtown Business Improvement Area’s board of management with three others – introducing monthly or annual passes for those who work downtown, introducing a 30-minute grace period for patrons who need to run quick errands, and implementing free-parking period (basically, all day Sunday and after 4 p.m. otherwise).
Cleveland’s lengthy motion set out others that he has picked up from residents, businesses and other members of council, most of which revolve around a low season (Sept. 15 through May 14) and a high season (May 15 through Sept. 15).
During the low season, all paid parking in Cobourg is free for the first three hours, with a $20 day pass available (with fines not to exceed $80), good at all paid parking spots in Cobourg.
During the high season, there is no free parking at any paid-parking spots. All paid parking costs $5 an hour, and a $40 day pass is available (with fines not to exceed $160). During these four months, Cobourg residents can purchase a month parking pass “good for all paid parking in Northumberland” at $25 a month or $100 for the whole high season. Northumberland residents can also purchase a monthly high-season parking pass for $80.
Daily parking passes will be available on-line, at the parking machines and at specified DBIA vendors. Town staff will be asked for their recommendations on how to make these passes more accessible and easier to purchase during the high season.
All handicapped spaces will be free to use at all times, and the fine for illegal parking in these spaces will rise to $1,000 for a first-time offence.
And until a new parking strategy is implemented, all paid parking in the town is suspended.
Cleveland insisted that his motion was not to implement these specific measures, but to pass them along to town staff for consideration as they formulate “a more easy-to-use and simplistic parking system that doesn’t necessitate a reduction in revenue but also takes into account the seasonality of our community.”
Councillor Adam Bureau urged a bit of a wait, considering that a report on parking is already due back from staff to council. In fact, Municipal Clerk Brent Larmer said, that would be more than one report. He referred to reports in the works addressing parking feasibility study, downtown parking, accessible permits and associated fines, and downtown employees’ permits.
Larmer pledged to take this input back to staff for a report that can be discussed at a full session of council – with the March timeline allowing for debate and any resulting changes to be made in time for the high season.
In the meantime, he suggested the suspension of paid parking until these matters are settled be taken out of Cleveland’s motion, and this was done.
Cleveland also asked that this matter be put out for full debate at the regular Feb. 28 council meeting.