By Joshua Parry
Orillia Bureau Chief
The Council of Orillia is reviewing a new policy which proposes that parking in the downtown district may soon become gated.
This does not affect those that already take the bus as their main mode of transportation, but for those of us that drive our own cars, it could change how we travel.
The City of Orillia wants to test out this “gated parking” first and wants all the feedback they can get. This means, as residents of Orillia, we have the opportunity to voice our opinions for either side.
If the Council decides to install gated parking in the downtown district, the City of Orillia expects to increase parking revenue by 20-30% according to the parking advisory committee (PAC). Since the revenue made from the parking goes into the general city budget it would give money back to the city.
Francoz, a member of the PAC says that they have no intention to increase the cost of parking; however, they would not be able to control a hike if it occurred. Parking with the gates does give a ten-minute grace period, so if customers only need to pop in and make a quick trip it would be free.
Customers would also not have to worry about when the ticket-on-the-dash is going to expire. There are definite benefits for both the city and the customers in the downtown district.
Parking gates are going to cost an estimated total of $107,713. The cost may deter members of City Council to decide that parking downtown is fine the way it is.
Currently, the city offers periods of the day and weekends in which paying for parking is not required. Would this change if the city was to install these gates? Nobody seems to know the answers to these pending details.
Gated parking will ensure payment compliance. However, will the option of parking two blocks away on the street not appear more appealing than paying for parking, especially if the walk is not that far?
Along with gates, time would now be required to enter and exit the parking lot. This will cause traffic on the street.
Behind Mariposa Market hundreds of vehicles enter and exit the parking lot in a day, not to mention the already crowded loading zones for restaurants that receive goods via the back doors, and the fact employees, as well as families who live above those restaurants, also need to park.
Lakehead Orillia has been a strong supporter for greener movements in the city. Last year, Lakehead was able to achieve extended hours for buses and extended routes. This was accomplished by many of the Lakehead students that supported this change and petitioned for what they needed.
The city of Orillia has listened to the demands of Lakehead students in the past and clearly values our opinion. Therefore, I urge you all to stay active and passionate in the affairs of the community that you live in. Orillia is building upon the growth that the university brings to the city, so we all have a strong impact on the city’s development.