Tensions are rising in the Town of Grand Valley over a long-standing issue. Parking.
Unexpected erections of ‘no parking’ signs at the end of people’s driveways. Tickets for parking in the medians. For many, it is starting to become too much. Correction. Not enough… spaces for parking.
Seeking a fix, ninety-nine people signed a petition, requesting changes to be made to the town’s parking bylaws, which was received by members of the Grand Valley town council at their December 8th meeting.
Specifically, the following was asked of the council: a) to allow parking on the boulevard with a reasonable space from the roadway to one’s vehicle, and from the sidewalk, to not impede the road or sidewalk plow. Those residents who choose to park on the boulevard should do so at their own risk. b) to allow parking in residential driveways a specific distance from the roadway that will still allow for vehicle parking but will also not impede the plow. Those residents who chose to park there do so at their own risk. c) amend the ‘no parking’ bylaws on residential streets to allow a two-hour maximum, d) allow stopping, not parking, at the school for loading and unloading children.
Discussions on the matter began with the first two points regarding parking on the boulevards. This portion of the petition was struck down entirely as the council felt that people would still try to hold the town liable for any damages to a vehicle, despite the bylaw stating that people parking there would do so at their own risk.
“They say they’ll take responsibility until probably something gets damaged, then we’re responsible,” expressed Steve Soloman, Mayor for the Town of Grand Valley.
Deputy Mayor Philip Rentsch was of a similar mind.
“We had a long conversation about this. I think we need to stick with what we decided. If we want to clean sidewalks and clean roads, then we have to listen to our [Public] Works department and they’re worried about having vehicles in the boulevard because they get in the way on both sides. People can say what they want, but if they get dinged, somebody is coming after us. That’s reality.”
The third request contained in the petition was concerning the ‘no parking’ bylaw that applies to residential streets. At the previous meeting held on November 24th, Grand Valley’s councilmembers directed town staff to investigate the cost of contracting a consultant to review parking throughout the town and make recommendations for improvements. An update is expected to be delivered at a future council meeting.
Earlier in the Grand Valley council meeting held on December 8th, during a presentation on the town’s insurance policy, Mayor Steve Soloman queried their account manager, Colin Smith, of the Frank Cowan Company.
“If we allow people to park across from the school and walk their kids across, and one of them gets hit, are we more liable for letting them do that than if we enforced our bylaw that prevents them from doing that?”
The number of kids being dropped off by guardians at the local school has increased as a result of the pandemic, as many feel this is safer than sending their kids on the bus. Residents of Grand Valley have recently expressed frustration on social media over being ticketed when unloading their children across the street from the school.
Smith said ‘no parking’ zones are generally put in place by the municipalities that have jurisdiction for the safety of the motorist and the pedestrian, and that a bylaw is only as good as its enforcement.
“If there is a designated ‘no parking’ zone, and it is there for good reason, it should be enforced to deter people from parking there,” Smith explained, “Such as a school zone, generally there are lots of kids coming all at once with parents dropping their kids off. If you are parking in a spot where you shouldn’t be, it could create sightline issues.” Smith went on to detail other dangers with the practice, and how bylaw enforcement is a necessary form of risk management in case a claim was ever made against the Town of Grand Valley if an accident did occur.
Upon further talks, it was generally felt among councilmembers that the crossing of a busy street, not occurring on a crosswalk, was a safety issue. That being said, a solution was proposed by Councillor Rick Taylor, who suggested that the Upper Grand District School Board buy a nearby plot of land north of the school that is available for sale, to increase parking.
Councillor Rick Taylor also recommended that the Grand Valley and District Community Centre’s parking lot be used for student pick-up and drop-off. The space is available during school hours and is on the same side of the street as the school, reducing the risk involved in crossing the street.
Councillor Steve Miles, who seemed determined to see the problem solved in some form, agreed that this may be the best way forward for now.
“We have to provide a reasonable solution, or the school board does,” declared Miles, “Somebody has to provide a reasonable, safe solution to drop kids off at school. This is crazy.”
Council passed a motion directing town staff to contact Grand Valley & District Public School to ask them to notify parents that the Community Centre’s parking lot is available to them for school pick-ups and drop-offs. Furthermore, staff will reach out to the Upper Grand District School Board to request that they consider buying nearby land to increase their parking capacity.
“I don’t see anything here that we can change immediately,” said Mayor Soloman.
References – Parking Problems Persist in the Town of Grand Valley
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