Bonnyville debates two-hour parking downtown

Town of Bonnyville Council debated the merits of keeping two-hour parking zones in the downtown core after a review by the community policing committee.

Council decided to keep the two-hour parking zones.

The review by the community policing committee suggested doing away with the restrictive parking zones, so council was presented with a decision – should they stay or should they go?

“What we decided last night was to keep the parking bans, but start looking at areas where we may need exemptions,” said Mayor Sobolewski.

Councillor Chad Colbourne, who sits on the policing committee, was for the removal of the two-hour zones.

He used a local hair salon as an example for the need for removal and added that it would be difficult for the one peace officer, the town employs, to enforce the bylaw.

“What’s happening is some of the salon’s client’s appointments are taking longer than two-hours,” he stated.

Which means the clients are there for legitimate reasons and the two-hour parking could hinder business for the salon, said Colbourne.

Bringing up the issue of enforcement, Colbourne pointed out that when the zones were first put in effect there were three bylaw officers. The Town now only has one.

“Who’s going to enforce it and how?”

One suggestion was to chalk tires. Colbourne doubted the officer would have time for that.

Mayor of Bonnyville, Gene Sobolewski said he recalls when the parking zones came into effect and the need for them.

“When the parking bylaw came into play it was very controversial,” the mayor recalled the passion and debates that came from implementing the two-hour parking zones.

There were situations, he recalled, where staff were using street parking and their vehicles were there all day making it hard for customers to find vacant spots.

“Once the bylaw came in it was a frenzy of writing tickets,” until residents became accustomed to the new zones.

Now that they are accustomed to the zones, the mayor worried that removing the bylaw would bring back the same issues that the town had seen before.

After a lengthy debate, council decided to maintain the two-hour parking.

Sobolewski added he did not foresee the two-hour parking zones as becoming highly enforced.