The preliminary results of a pilot project for three-hour enforced parking in downtown Elora and Fergus are in.
The pilot, intended to increase the turnover and availability of prime downtown parking spaces during tourist season, was planned to start in May and run until Oct. 31. Due to the provincial COVID-19 lockdown, the program did not begin until June.
As part of the $100,000 pilot, a private company, Alpha Parking Solutions, was contracted for parking enforcement.
According to a report included on Tuesday's council agenda, 393 warning notices were issued from June to Aug. 15.
In July, enforcement officers began giving out tickets, with 503 issued up until Aug. 15. The most common offence was overtime parking, with 169 tickets issued. Other ticketed infractions included parking in a no parking zone and parking too close to intersections or driveways.
Using a base set fine of $30 and taking into account usual payment habits, Alpha Parking Solutions estimates the base valuation of the 896 infractions recorded is $41,664.
Based on the data so far, township staff concluded:
- Parking enforcement provided relief in congested downtown areas
- There is a need for parking enforcement, particularly in Elora during peak tourist times
- Set fines should be increased
- Improved signage and delineation of parking spaces is warranted
- A parking permit system should be considered in future
- Paid parking, even if its a nominal fee or store validated, should also be considered
A new private parking bylaw to address unwanted parking on private property is also required, staff said. The report indicates during the first several weeks of the pilot, businesses and residents complained about encroachment on private parking.
Given the pilot's delayed start due to the lockdown and a delay in the implementation of handheld ticketing devices, "it may be prudent to consider extending the pilot program to the spring/fall of 2022 in order to collect data for a full tourist season (May through October)," the report said.
Township staff will be attending upcoming Fergus and Elora BIA meetings to share pilot project data and ask for feedback.
The cost of continuing the pilot into 2022 is estimated at $100,000 to $120,000. Council will consider extending it during 2022 budget deliberations, which are scheduled to take place over the next three months. The 2022 budget is expected to get final approval in December.