Motorists who park their vehicles on Centre Street in downtown Meadow Lake could soon be doing so on borrowed time.

During city council’s regular meeting this past Monday (April 11), councillor Mauri Young raised the issue of parking and exactly how long vehicles are allowed to remain parked in front of downtown businesses.

“I’ve had a few people phone me to ask how they can get a parking spot downtown,” Young noted. “The spots always seem to be full and it always seems to be the vehicles belonging to the employees of the businesses that are parked out front all day long. It’s the same vehicles parked at the same businesses at the same time every day.”

Councillor Conrad Read pointed out, however, some days are busier downtown than others.

“Sure, you may have to drive around the block a few times if you want to park in front of a particular business instead of parking further up the road and walking a block or so,” he said.

The city does have a bylaw in place that restricts downtown parking to a two-hour maximum.

“Perhaps this is something we can look into enforcing,” stated mayor Merlin Seymour. “Secondly, I believe the onus should be on the business owners (to ensure employees are not parking on Centre Street). Sorry to say it, but people are generally lazy. If they have to walk more than 40 paces to get to a business, they’re not going to shop there. Maybe business owners should be enforcing things on their own.”

Young said some businesses do not have adequate parking available for employees and this is why the same vehicles are often parked downtown.

“The only thing we can really do is have our bylaw department take a look at it – they’d figure it out pretty quickly I assume,” remarked councillor Tom Harrison.

Seymour, meanwhile, wondered if it would be beneficial for the city to send letters to downtown business owners to remind them of the two-hour parking limit.

“We’re assuming it’s people working at these businesses, but we can’t say for sure,” Read said.

According to city clerk Ferne Hebig, the bylaw department will have a summer student employed in the coming months who could potentially help with enforcement.

“The fine is $100 – it’s not inexpensive, and I don’t think it would take too many tickets for people to get the hint,” she said.

Seymour, however, said he would rather see correspondence go out to business owners and residents before tickets are issued.

“If people can’t park there all day what are their other options?” asked councillor Marty Bishop.

Seymour replied by stating that is part of the problem.

“There is parking available behind some of the buildings while behind others there isn’t,” Harrison said. “But, by and large – as a business owner – you would hope there is a place for your customers to park.”

by Phil Ambroziak