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Midland councillor wants peers' help to suspend downtown paid parking

Bill Gordon says the town needs to immediately pause parking system 'to support our residents and downtown merchants'
Councillor Bill Gordon addresses council in this pre-pandemic photo. Mehreen Shahid/MidlandToday

Bill Gordon says he’s heard the message loud and clear.

Having read a steady stream of letters to MidlandToday and been contacted by many constituents, the Midland councillor wants to pause paid parking in the town’s downtown core.

Gordon spent the past week with both residents and visitors as they inserted cash along with their debit and credit cards into the new machines, which replaced traditional parking meters where one fed quarters, nickels and dimes to pay for parking.

“As a result of those firsthand experiences with residents and visitors,” Gordon said, “I intend to bring a motion without notice to Wednesday’s council meeting where I’m going to seek the 75% support I need to speak to it.”

Over the past several weeks, MidlandToday has published numerous letters-to-the-editor it’s received on this issue in recent weeks.

Gordon said that waiting until the next council meeting to have it formally recognized as a motion will create unnecessary delay and frustration for residents and visitors.

“My motion will be to immediately suspend the pay parking system for the fall and into the winter followed by a complete rethink of this system, its setup, the problems we’re experiencing with the buttons, the user-interface and the screens.”

For his part, Gordon then noted the system could eventually be reimplemented with different options that make it more user-friendly for both residents and visitors alike.

Those options could include a return of free back-lot parking and only paid street parking, according to Gordon.

“Those will all be subject to the discussions and lively debate that will come later,” he said. “But step one will be to get this system offline ASAP, to try to undo the damage to our reputation as a council and our town by pivoting to support our residents and downtown merchants while we admit that there are problems with this current system.”

Gordon said he hopes he can gain the support of his council peers to pause pay parking implementation while they explore all options during the budget/winter season.

Gordon is also asking local residents to reach out to their councillors to support his notice of motion and voice their concerns prior to Wednesday’s meeting.

“I’m sorry this is so frustrating, but as a proponent of user fees to help offset tax increases I’ve been supportive of this up to the point now,” he said, “where I’ve experienced the problems firsthand and I share those experiences of our residents and visitors and I can see we clearly have some work to do.”

The town installed 70 pay-by-plate machines along King Street along with downtown side streets, between First Street and Midland Avenue, as well as in all 10 municipal lots earlier this year.

The total cost of the project is approximately $545,000 with the parking rate remaining the same as with the previous meter system, 25 cents for fifteen minutes or one dollar per hour.

While there is a 15-minute free parking provision, parking is enforced from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday for on-street parking and all municipal lots, with the exception of the harbour, where enforcement is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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