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Businesses speak to need for 15-minute quick errand parking spots

Local businesses seek 15-minute quick errand parking spaces. This photo taken at 6:30 p.m.

By Sharon Harrison
Complaints about parking problems in Picton continue as two downtown businesses seek establishment of three 15-minute ‘quick errand’ spots.

“The parking turnover situation needs a fix on Picton Main Street,” said pharmacist Karl Sitarski, owner of the County Drugstore, adding how “the lack of parking turnover has become a significant issue, adversely affecting local businesses and impeding residents’ ability to run quick errands”.

Speaking to the Traffic Advisory Committee Wednesday evening, Sitarski shared concerns about a lack of available parking spaces, as well as addressing the accessibility aspect and impact on individuals using his business, many of whom are elderly.

“Essentially, locals are noticing that it is becoming more and more inconvenient to do business on Main Street, and I am seeing that day-in and day-out. Parking is a big issue and it comes up in conversation all the time with my patients, and it is something I really feel needs to be addressed.“

He said the current parking congestion has led to a loss of business for many businesses located on Main Street as it has become increasingly inconvenient for residents to do business there. He noted too, that there are no parking spots that belong to his property, either behind it or elsewhere.

“This is a very common case around many businesses on Picton Main Street who also don’t have dedicated spots, so this is an issue for many businesses, but for mine particularly, because we don’t have any dedicated spots where I can tell customers to park.”

“Local customers struggle to find available parking spaces, which discourages them from visiting our establishments and as a result, local resident foot traffic has declined, impacting our revenue and livelihoods,” he said.

He stated people are parking their vehicles in spaces downtown for prolonged periods of time, with little turnover.

He noted that from the dispensary window, he and his staff have observed on “many, many, many occasions, where cars are parked for the entire day on Main Street, and I don’t see that as the purpose of Main Street parking”.

He suggested those who plan to park all day in downtown Picton should do so in the areas of King, Mary, Queen and Elizabeth streets which are better suited to all day parking.

Sitarski emphasized how the pharmacy serves a significant number of elderly patients who require parking close to the pharmacy, and added not all of these individuals qualify for an accessible parking permit.

“They are forced to drive around in search of suitable parking in closer proximity to the pharmacy, and their well-being and access to essential medications are directly impacted by the current parking challenge.”

Long-term patients, some who can’t walk far, he said, have had to leave the pharmacy to take their business elsewhere because they can’t find parking.

Located next door to the County Drugstore is Scotiabank where branch manager Kim Laird spoke briefly, echoing Sitarski’s comments as she said the bank too is facing the same problems with a lack of available parking spaces in front of their business for patrons to use, especially seniors.

“I am in total agreement that it really is becoming an issue, especially for our older clients as they have mobility issues, canes, walkers and such, and when they can’t find parking close by, it’s very difficult for them,” said Laird. “We are losing business, and it’s not just our elderly clients either, as we have people that need to run into the bank machine and grab cash who need five minutes, and it makes it really difficult.”

She said the main complaint from her clients is parking, where she noted that the spaces outside the bank are often full at 7.30 a.m. or 8 a.m. when she arrives for work, and often stay that way for most of the day, or very large chunks of time.

“Fifteen minute parking would be perfect, however, I’m not sure that’s going to change anything,” said Laird, who asked if it would be possible to have some designated spots for businesses.

Sitarski also touched on the recently extended outdoor patio program.

“The recent issuance of outdoor patio licences to restaurants along Main Street has further reduced available parking spaces in the summer months, and while outdoor dining is a positive addition to our community, we must strike a balance to ensure that parking remains available and accessible for all.”

His proposal to help ease the problem is for the County to implement three 15-minute parking spots in front of both businesses (219 and 211 Main St).

Councillor Phil Prinzen asked Sitarski if he thought it would be precedent-setting for other businesses (those that needed a quick in and out) if 15-minute parking spaces were implemented and questioned how it could be enforced.

Sitarski said businesses that rely on quick in’s and out’s would benefit from a 15-minute parking space, because it would promote turnover. Speaking to how it could be enforceable, he suggested it could be achieved with existing staff.

“I think it wouldn’t be very difficult to enforce as there are parking attendants that I’ve seen all day that walk up and down Main Street, so I think it is very easily enforceable,” Sitarski said. “Implementing 15-minute parking spots would not only benefit our businesses, but also enhance the overall experience for residents and visitors,” he said.

His ask extended to requesting a staff report to look into implementing more 15 minute parking spots along Picton Main Street.

“I am hopeful that together we can help promote Picton Main Street as a more convenient place to do business. Please help us out,” he added, “because we are losing business.”

Councillor Prinzen proposed to refer the matter to staff to explore the possibility of three 15-minute spots in front of 219 and 211 Picton Main St.

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  1. Janice says:

    Totally agree with Lou. It’s time that Canada Post started towing the delinquents out of their parking lot. I can recall a few months ago, one person remarking that a local restaurant had suggested parking was available at the Canada Post parking lot. The parking situation is terrible downtown Picton.

  2. KB says:

    Everyone – can we please please please consider resident’s needs? Not just businesses, or which businesses are getting more than others…..residents, locals – people who actually LIVE HERE, need access to parking. Can I please just get my mail without a parking hassle? I’ve seen people actually starting to block cars in.

  3. Wayne Van Soelen says:

    As seen in Europe, people put a paper or card clock with moveable hands on their dash .The hands are made to show what time they parked. The 15 minutes-free parking is easy to enforce when it can be clearly seen the time the vehicle parked in that spot. If showing the time the vehicle is parked, all parking places in town could provide 15 minute parking without the nuisance of going to the machine etc to make a payment.

  4. Mike Rodgers says:

    It is my understanding that the current parking policy is that a car is ticketed if it is parked passed its required paid time. and if the parking enforcement officer returns on its round and the car is still there then no additional ticket is written, this can go on all day. This is why cars park on Main St. all day. A safe parking spot all day for $15.00 while I go to the beach with friends etc. What needs to be done is to start towing cars and also ridding the street of patios would help. Oh and also maybe have a car charging station at Ross St. parking lot, oh wait there was there and was moved to the fair grounds hid away from view.

  5. Paul D Cole says:

    I think every business on Main St. should be afforded the same opportunity as restaurants on Main St. with patio’s. Providing them with the chance to designate 2 or 3 parking spots in front of their stores for customers only in a similar deal as patio’s, of course it would need tweaking a bit but it could work and it’s only fair….

  6. angela says:

    About time council woke up and started to consider the locals, instead of making it all about the whims and convenience of tourists. The Main Street patios take up much needed parking and, if tourism is down and the pandemic is no longer the concern it was, it would seem there would be plenty of space in local eateries for indoor dining. It is becoming much easier to shop in Belleville than to fight for a parking space on Picton’s Main Street. It is much easier to go to the Bank of Montreal where there is lots of parking than to circle the block numerous times trying to find a parking space near the CIBC or the Bank of Nova Scotia. It is not easy for seniors to park near the library, the pharmacy, the bookstore, or the downtown banks. This situation needs to be corrected or one day tourists will be the only ones visiting Main Street.

  7. Lou says:

    Agreed! And its only as good as it is enforced – to avoid more frustration. For instance, EVERY DAY the parking lot at the Canada Post is being used by shoppers, restaurant goers and other businesses in the area. And the Royal Hotel got their 15 min parking spot. I recall there used to be some 15 min parking spots in front of the old Post Office (currently the Victory Building) near the drug store, but that seemed to be lost during changes and reconstruction. This issue has been raised before and I for one, appreciate businesses identifying it – otherwise we sound like a bunch of complaining residents. It cannot always be about the tourists and visitors. Local residents’ needs must be addressed. Thank you.

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