By John Draper
All of a sudden, parking has become a big issue in Cobourg. Last summer it was parking by visitors at the beach – despite signage, parking was allowed on the pier and no waterfront parking was free, even for residents. The residents in the new (white) waterfront condos are unhappy because not enough visitor’s parking required by the building permits. They pay taxes so they expected to be able to park on the waterfront but now, that’s very limited. This is not an easy problem since other residents also want to park on the waterfront in the summer.
And now we have the Amherst development where some residents are abusing the system. The intent of the development was that people would use the lanes at the rear for access so there would never be any need for street parking. Caddy Drive was featured in newspaper reports but Prince Edward Drive also has a problem. Because at least one resident has multiple vehicles, they park some of them on the street. One resident does not even use their double garage – it is full of other stuff.
Snow ploughs and fire trucks have reported difficulty getting down these streets so the town is wanting to enforce bylaws that would prohibit parking on at least one side of the street. Some residents are objecting and these are getting reported by the newspapers. If you talk to the residents you find that many are happy with the council’s plan. The complainers say that the problem is the council’s responsibility since they approved the plan. I can’t agree – if anyone is to blame, it’s the developers for not making it clear to buyers as to what was planned.
Another older development that has an ongoing problem is the so-called Hoffman waterfront condos. Not enough visitor parking was allocated during construction and Hoffman always promised – “it will be in the next phase”. Then he went bankrupt and the next phase never arrived. Now it’s a perpetual headache.
The other ongoing parking headache hanging over us is the question of downtown parking. This is currently only adequate because of the Quigley vacant land that is temporarily used for parking. What will happen when that gets developed? It’s too valuable to stay as a parking lot forever. Does Cobourg have a plan to replace that parking? Perhaps the council would like to follow up on transparency and let us in on the secret – if there is one.
The latest fuss about parking in Cobourg is the issuance of free parking passes – 793 of them. The issue is NOT the loss of revenue but the fact that the only reasons for issuing them are one-by-one decisions – there should be an overall strategy that says why passes are issued. Why some residents and not others, why some groups and not others. I am sure there will be people who are wondering why they are not on the list.
It’s time the Cobourg planning department put some effort into planning the whole range of parking problems in the town. Or if they already have, maybe they could publish a report of what they have decided.
I certainly agree with the thrust of Mr. Draper’s argument here, that the Town needs to develop clear policies and consistency to our parking rules. The multitude of free parking passes irritates me to no end, and as someone who grew up here, having to pay to park at the Park just doesn’t sit well. I can live with it, but not if nearly 800 other people get a freebie for reasons that are not clear at all.
I’m not so sure the residents at New Amherst should be held blameless in their parking mess though. If they had done their research properly before buying, they would have known what they were getting into, and if they didn’t know, what was their real estate agent doing to earn that commission? Due diligence is what they call it, and every homebuyer should know about it.
As to garages filled with stuff rather than being used for vehicles, my advice is to clean out the stuff! The Salvation Army will gladly find new homes for anything useable, and we have landfills for the rest of it. All of us could use less stuff, and after we slog through the big clear out, we tend to think twice before starting a new pile.