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City staff working on report on paid parking proposal for parks

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Deputy-mayor Brian O’Leary withdrew his motion to request a staff report on how Owen Sound could roll out a paid parking system for non-residents at certain parks and facilities after city officials discovered council had passed a similar directive nine months earlier.

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“When I did this notice of motion at the last meeting, I had completely forgotten – and, apparently, so did everyone else – that I made this motion on Dec. 3 at a budget meeting and it’s already been passed by this council. And we’re waiting on a report that we haven’t got yet,” he said during Monday’s city council meeting.

City manager Tim Simmonds said Tuesday that Owen Sound’s administration had “lost sight” of the motion, “thus the confusion.”

“We will be working to bring back a report, but I do not have a timing on that as of now,” he said.

The motion presented by O’Leary and passed by council Dec. 3 directed staff to bring forward a report on non-resident fees for parking at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, Julie McArthur Regional Recreation Centre, Harrison Park, Kelso Beach and “other areas recommended by staff.”

O’Leary’s notice of motion, presented Aug. 30, proposed to also request a staff report “on the details of how a paid parking system for non-residents council be implemented beginning in 2022 at Harrison Park and Kelso Beach,” with the potential of adding other sites, including the Lumley-Bayshore and regional rec centre.

He planned to ask that the motion include provisions to address campers at Harrison Park and Kelso Beach and people with annual memberships at the Owen Sound YMCA.

The preamble to his motion included nine “whereas clauses,” which mentioned, among other things, that Owen Sound has an existing annual infrastructure deficit of $3.1 million for core assets, the city’s five-year capital plan identifies more than $5 million in required upgrades to parks within the next five years and a “convenient system of paid parking” would relieve the city property taxpayer from bearing the “entire cost of maintaining our parks for the benefit of all.”

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O’Leary told The Sun Times after presenting his notice of motion that it’s not sustainable for Owen Sound property taxpayers to foot the entire bill to operate, maintain and upgrade the city’s parks when they’re used by people from neighbouring municipalities and other communities.

“It’s about time that we start sticking up for our taxpayers,” he said at the time.

Many Ontario municipalities, including Northern Bruce Peninsula and Barrie, are charging parking fees to non-residents to help offset expenses, he said.

At the start of Monday’s council meeting, clerk Briana Bloomfield read out a question from Owen Sound resident Janet Walker who expressed concerns about O’Leary’s notice of motion.

She asked if introducing paid parking for non-residents at the parks would be detrimental to local tourism and businesses and whether the costs of the proposed system would outweigh revenue.

In response, O’Leary said those questions will be answered in the staff report.

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