SCUGOG: Council has decided to defer the Port Perry Business Improvement Association’s (BIA) parklet pilot project until 2017.
The decision was made at a meeting on Monday, June 20. The original proposal from the BIA was to have at least six parking spaces on Queen St., between Perry St. and Water St., replaced by temporary boardwalk style “bump outs.” At the meeting, Council was going to vote on a staff recommendation to approve the project with two parklets in total installed this year.
However, Ward 5 Councillor Jennifer Back moved a motion to defer the project. The motion also stated that staff would have the authority to deny any applications for a parklet in the urban Port Perry area.
At the same meeting, Council discussed a petition from members of the Port Perry BIA for Council to force the organization to hold a recorded vote on the project. The petition, written by JoAnne Callery, stated that the BIA membership had “not been provided with any information about this proposed project” and added that it “is important that all BIA members are given the right to accept or reject” the project proposal.
“Do the heritage committee or even the Council have the authority to require the BIA to take a vote?” Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew asked.
Clerk Nicole Wellsbury responded, stating that it would not be a good idea for Council to force the BIA’s hand.
“My personal and professional opinion is, that it would not be appropriate for Council to try to compel the BIA board to hold a referendum. That is the purview of the BIA board itself,” she said.
She also added that it is not a question of whether “Council could do that, but instead if they should.”
Ward 3 Councillor Don Kett said there has been “a lot of staff time put into (the project)” and added “if people don’t want it, (Scugog) should worry about spending everyone’s tax dollars on it.”
The BIA did hold a vote on the parklet project later on, with the result being also to defer the project.
The issue was again discussed at Council’s meeting on Monday, June 27. At the meeting, Tony Janssen and Julie Curran, from the Scugog Chamber of Commerce, made an unscheduled deputation to Council, stressing their support for the project.
“We need more public green space in Scugog, what a great way to start,” Mr. Janssen said. “We as a chamber feel that by holding this initiative back, it sets us further behind, and sends out a message to other potential Township businesses who really want to do business in Scugog.”
Councillor Kett questioned what would happen if Council decided to change their decision on the parklet initiative.
“Would this be looked at as a vote of non confidence for the BIA?” he asked.
Tony Janssen responded, stating that the chamber is in support of the BIA.
Ms. Callery also made a deputation to Council about the parklet initiative.
“We are not against the parklets, we just want more survey to go into the parking in the town. We all want to flourish here. We just want everyone to understand that (taking up parking places on Queen St.) is a major issue,” she said.
Councillor Back passionately defended her original motion to defer the project.
“I don’t believe any of the Councillors here are against the parklets, the point of contention here is the process,” she said.
Ward 2 Councillor Janna Guido said she was “saddened to see” the divide the parklet initiative debate has created.
“It’s sad that no matter how the vote turns out, one group will declare victory over the other group,” she said.
Councillor Guido also mentioned that she has noticed many business owners recently parking on Queen St., taking up some of those spots.
Councillor Drew agreed that the three hour parking limit needs to be better enforced by the Township, and the Township needs to install directional signage on Queen St.
The Regional Councillor made a motion to approve the project, and have no limit on the number of parklets that could be installed during the pilot and that the fees be waived.
“We need to refresh our downtown, we need to make Scugog a Staycation destination,” Councillor Drew said.
However, the motion was defeated, and Councillor Back’s original motion to defer the project was once again approved.