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Summer tourism management plan addresses parking ‘pain points’; staffing, passes

Summer tourism plans in Prince Edward County will look much the same as last year if tweaks and suggestions presented by staff are approved at the March 14 council meeting.

The parking fine “pain point” for residents and tourists was discussed extensively at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Staff recommend keeping $400 fines for parking in restricted areas near the Sandbanks and North Beach provincial parks; and reducing all other seasonal no parking zone penalties to $100. While those fines are reduced to $300 and $75 if paid quickly, councillors Chris Braney and Brad Nieman attempted to have all fines reduced to $50.

Council supported keeping the fine structure presented in place – noting low fines would be ineffective.

Athol councillor Sam Branderhorst spoke specifically to keeping the $400 fines for parking along “a dangerous, winding County Road 18” at Sandbanks. Bloomfield Hallowell council Phil Prinzen reminded council of the difficulty he had driving a fire truck through the parked vehicles on the stretch to North Beach when responding to a drowning incident.

Staff note part of the reduction in parking fine revenue, expected to be about $30,000, can be made up with reduced enforcement with both general security and staffing at Wellington beach.

In 2023, plans are for a temporary employee working five days per week for eight hours per day, plus two summer students at a cost of $107,000. In 2022 staffing was one security person on a 12-hour per day schedule for seven days per week, plus two summer students – at a cost of $114,438.

Staff report that of the 463 tickets issued in 12 restricted parking locations, few were paid outright at the $400 rate (eight, or two per cent) and 149 were paid at the lower $300 rate (offered if paid quickly).

A large proportion – 157 or 33 per cent – of tickets are unresolved and will likely be paid at the $400 rate (plus admin fee) after collection or plate denial through the Ministry of Transportation (MTO).

Only 34 per cent of the tickets were paid outright by the offender without escalating the issue and incurring costs to the municipality related to a screening officer, hearing officer, collection agency or MTO.

For data privacy reasons, the addresses of drivers who received tickets and paid either the set fine or voluntary payment is not available. The proportion of tickets issued to residents vs. visitors is unknown however, among the 71 people who challenged tickets issued at Bakker Road and Huyck’s Point through the Screening Officer, 53 of them (75 per cent) were visitors.

The staff report also recommended discontinuing the PEC Summer parking pass program and eliminating designated parking areas for passholders due to continuing problems, especially on Bakker Road. Council asked staff for an expanded program that includes the Wellington Rotary Beach and west end water access points and noted it wishes to retain the roadside (one side) parking on Bakker. A full County parking report is coming to council in April.

Staffing at Wellington’s beach will also be reduced, and while the $10 admission fee is to continue, council agreed admittance should be free of charge to those aged 16 and under.

Staffing is recommended for weekends and stat holidays in July and August only. Staff deployed to other areas could be on call to attend the beach in cases of high visitor volumes.

Statistics reported fees covered the cost of staffing 83 per cent of the weekend and holiday days in July and August but beach operations lost money on 92 per cent of May and June weekend and holiday staffing days; as well as on 71 per cent of the weekdays in July and August.

In 2022, capacity was increased to 425 in light of relaxed COVID-19 pandemic social distancing requirements. The beach only reached capacity on a weekend, once. Residents accounted for 35 per cent of total beach attendance. Highest volume days were mainly visitors, but on the average day, residents made up 54 per cent of beachgoers.

WELLINGTON PARKING
An agreement is under way with school board to use the CML Snider School parking lot in the summer for a five-year period with increased garbage collection, better signage, and patrols by OPP to prevent overnight camping.

EV CHARGING
There is currently no functioning, publicly-accessible EV charging infrastructure in The County. The unit installed in the King Street parking lot in Picton is not functioning and needs to be replaced entirely. While a number of accommodators and wineries have electric vehicle charging infrastructure, this infrastructure is primarily available to paying guests of these businesses.

Staff suggest issuing a request for proposals of a no-capital cost arrangement for level 3 chargers in at least two locations in exchange for a percentage of revenues. In this type of arrangement, the supplier invests all required capital costs including site preparation, hardware, software, installation, etc., at a cost of approximately $500,000 or more per site.

Alternatively, staff suggested seeking grant funding for level 2 chargers (slower, but cost to install significantly lower) which would be brought to council for 2024 budget consideration.

GLENORA FERRY
Council agreed Mayor Steve Ferguson should write to the Ministry of Transportation to stress the importance of having two ferries operating at Glenora over the summer.

BOAT LAUNCHES
Continue parking permit programs with no changes. Better signage to be installed to explain use. The new West Lake launch will continue in year two of a two-year lease with an option to continue.

WASHROOMS/PARKS
Better signage for 33 public washroom locations as well as picnic areas; use 2023 budget funds to improve visibility of four public brick and mortar washrooms with paint or decals.

OUTDOOR PATIO
Policy amendments include clarifying zones, requirements for walkways, signage, prohibiting freestanding umbrellas in parking spaces, reinstating operating dates to May 1 to Oct. 15.

COMMUNICATIONS AND DATA
The Joint Communications Working Group established with the first tourism management plan in 2021 will be re-convened in April 2023. This group usually includes staff from the Provincial Parks, Quinte Conservation, the OPP, 99.3 County FM, and Visit The County (VTC), as well as staff from multiple municipal departments. This group exists to share information about operating procedures at amenities, communications protocols around amenity closures, and to discuss emerging concerns throughout the summer.

The 2023 budget of $306,000 includes $3,000 directed to continue to work with Visit the County to procure data from a variety of sources including cell phone data, and conduct visitor counts and public consultation particularly around the use of outdoor areas and overall visitation numbers.

 

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  1. David Thomas says:

    @Todd, the way I read the article is that in exchange for providing the site, the county gets revenue from the charger but the supplier of the charger pays for the installation.

  2. B Wilder says:

    Regarding EV charging, County staff suggest that a “no-capital cost arrangement for level 3 chargers in at least two locations in exchange for a percentage of revenues.” Even a casual search of national and provincial news sources will reveal the intent of motor vehicle manufacturers to completely switch to electric vehicle production. The times are changing.

  3. Todd says:

    Why are taxpayers paying for EV drivers to charge their cars? The charger on King St isn’t that old and has been broken for some time. It would be interesting to know how many taxpayers, and cars in general used it.

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