Friday , 16 April 2021

Issue over Downtown Parking in Bonnyville Continues

New start-up may be hindered due to lack of parking

Bev Towe would love to bring laser tag to Bonnyville, she has  her eye on the perfect building, in the perfect location. The Town of Bonnyville Council would love for a laser tag establishment to be operated in the community and the owners of the old Big George Appliances are ready for a buyer. The only problem, there is not adequate parking, according to the Town’s bylaw, for such an establishment to be operated in the downtown area of Bonnyville.

Towes explained to council that she does not believe her business would have a negative affect on the area parking, due to hours of operation and carpooling. “We won’t be open until 4:00 pm on weekedays; Monday and Tuesdays we will not be open,” Towes explains that she is modeling her business to accommodate tweens, teens, and their parents. “Saturdays we’ll open at 1:00 pm.”

“It’s for kids, parents are going to drop off four or five kids at a time,” Towes doesn’t foresee hitting her capacity numbers of 100 every day a week, joking, “I wish, we’d only have to be open one day a week.” She anticipates busier weekends with hockey, baseball or soccer tournaments; still with kids walking or being dropped off. The games are in sets of three, with 20 players at once for approximately an hour. “For the tournaments that come into Bonnyville, there isn’t anything for the kids. [I’ve heard of] bus loads of kids going to Cold Lake, because there isn’t anything for them. If we had something in Bonnyville to keep the kids here, they would be spending money in Bonnyville; the parents in restaurants and stores, rather than taking it all to Cold Lake.”

Mayor of Bonnyville, Gene Soboe

The Planning and Development department at the Town of Bonnyville broke down the numbers and at full capacity the facility would have 92 people in it, which would require, as per the bylaw 40 stalls. The area of town, 5003 51st avenue, only allows for five onsite parking stalls. Which raises a major issue in overflow parking.

According to the Town’s Bylaw for each overflow parking stall required, the Town charges $2, 041.21, creating a fee of $69, 401.14 on the potential business owner. Without being able to endure that penalty, the potential owner, Bev Towes, has stated she would not be able to open.

The Town appears eager to help solve the problem; which raises a few complications:

  • Where would the overflow parking go?
  • Would neighbouring businesses be affected by the overflow parking?
  • What would it cost the business in bylaw penalties to move forward with the business?
  • Is there anything the Town can do to help?

“There has always been a problem with parking downtown,” Councillor Ray Prevost says this issue is not specific to Towes’ application. “We’re in a situation now, we have no more bowling alley, we have no theatre. I think [laser tag] is a good thing. I don’t disagree that we have a real parking issue here; but somehow I would like to see that business go.” Councillor Prevost is hopeful that the Town, the owner of the building, and the applicant, Towes, can work together to find a solution.

The Town decided to table the decision and bring it back to Council at the November 8th Council Meeting. At which time they hope to have some answers the issue with overflow parking in the downtown area, and even hold a lengthy discussion about permanent solutions to the problem.

About Jena Colbourne