Streets in Ward 5 have a parking problem, there’s no doubt about it. Essex Street is overwhelmed, and nearby overflow streets on Kent, Fountain, Surrey and Nottingham are just as crowded. Why ? Because they are within walking distance of downtown. Fairview, Forbes, Vardon, James, Dean, all within walking distance to the University, are bumper to bumper all day, Monday to Friday. Harvard, Yewholme and Rickson are also lined with cars, all within walking distance to the Research Park, OMAFRA and the University.
I first noticed this phenomenon about five years ago, but can honestly say it has grown into an unmanageable situation over the last 1-2 years. Is it a lack of parking downtown or on campus? It appears on the surface a simple answer, but that is not universally the case. Daytime parking capacity exists, according to reports, in the downtown, in university lots and at the Research Park and OMAFRA. All of these are paid lots. It appears the drivers just simply would prefer to park for free.
Where does this leave residents? They feel hostage, they cannot invite guests to their homes Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Their children are at risk, with bumper to bumper cars and no gaps. No room for service or utility or delivery trucks to stop, so they stop in the middle of the street blocking traffic. Snow and leaf pick-up are problematic, if not impossible. In many cases, homeowners can’t even safely exit their own driveways due to the congestion and sight line obstruction.
Legally, the roadways are public and anyone can park (subject to posted street restrictions). But it is getting ridiculous. Is it a parking problem or a driving problem? Is public transit an alternative to the hundreds of cars lining and blocking residential streets five days a week, 8 hours a day?
One solution is to create localized parking restrictions that will discourage the behaviour, such as a two-hour limit, or opposite side only parking. Residents who want to pursue this option can contact me and I will forward your contact information to our Parking staff. Beware, there are so many streets on the list for this type of relief, that it might take a while. Another option is to educate the drivers who are clogging our neighbourhoods — flyers on windshields, more frequent enforcement, etc. Will it work? Perhaps some drivers will succumb to their sense of community and splurge for a parking pass or try transit…and maybe not. One thing for sure, it is getting worse and it is time for action.