Council exploring ways to make summer time more resident-friendly

(Gazette file photo)
OLIVIA TIMM

FOR THE GAZETTE

As summer months approach, County council is looking to adjust littering, noise levels, patio regulations and refreshment vehicle licensing in Prince Edward County. 

Council explored amendments to several tourism management bylaws at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, the first of which relates to local patios.

Sarah Doiran, Executive Director of the Picton Business Improvement Association (BIA) said as another busy summer is anticipated this year paired with the impacts on local business due to COVID-19k, the BIA Board of Management is “pleased to see the continuation of this advantageous program.”

Todd Davis, Director of Community Services, Programs and initiatives, said similar to the 2020 patio program, rental and application fees will be waived for local business owners who wish to rent parking spaces to expand their patios.

In return, he said, a good partnership would be to ask local businesses to take some of the “burden” off of municipal staff by providing extra garbage disposal bins to their patios.

Doiron said many downtown Picton businesses benefited from the extended patio season – May 1 to Nov. 30 – and no associated fees last year. 

The proposed amendments to the littering bylaw saw some concerns among councillors.

Coun. Bill MacMahon posed the question on a “formula” for placement of garbage bins across Main Street to encourage proper waste disposal.

“Last year during the tourist season we suffered greatly with the amount of litter and garbage in the streets, in I guess what you would call the tourist areas,” he said.

Coun. Jamie Forrester asked if a plan was in place regarding enforcement against garbage discarded illegally on rural roads.

Athol Councillor Jamie Forrester. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

Mike Kelly, Deputy Chief Building and Bylaw Enforcement Officer, said the County’s legal team is requesting staff to consider first and second offences, above the current fines set at $300.

“The fines are substantially higher in that sense,” Kelly said. “They would raise up to $10,000 for the first offence if convicted under a Part 3 ticket and a second subsequent office would be up to $50,000.”

The issue, he explained, is being able to identify and locate any witnesses of the person discarding the refuse.  

Forrester suggested the potential installation of hidden tree cameras to pick up license plate information, to which Kelly said staff could look into enforcement details and costs associated with type of surveillance. 

The third bylaw discussed was to review and update the mobile food and refreshment vehicles bylaw, which would be in consultation with the Community and Economic Development Commission, Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce, the general public, food truck operators and the hospitality industry.

Doiron suggested adding the downtown Bloomfield, Wellington and Consecon Business Improvement Areas to take part in the feedback process. 

Kelly said consultation with local public health as well as fire safety officials will also be taken into consideration.

Coun. Margetson suggested adding signage to local drive-through restaurants to encourage proper disposal. 

Coun. Forrester posed the concept of adding a Tim Horton’s food truck to local beaches to help deter visitors and residents from leaving the park to visit town – adding to local traffic congestion.

The updated outdoor patio bylaw will be brought back to the Feb. 23 council meeting.

The draft littering bylaw is set to come back to the Feb. 25 Committee of the Whole meeting and then brought to the Mar. 11 Regular Council meeting for approval.

The proposed amendment to the bylaw surrounding mobile canteens, food trucks and other refreshment vehicles is expected no later than April 15. 

Along with these bylaws, Council also discussed the proposal of a new noise bylaw. 

Several councillors vouched for the extension of noise level allowance on Sundays, as many individuals tend to complete yard work or outdoor activities on the weekend outside of work hours.

Coun. Phil Prinzen said residents who work six days a week might appreciate the extra time to do yard work. 

Coun. Brad Neiman agreed, saying lots of people end up cutting their lawn or cutting wood in preparation for colder months, and do so early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the summer heat. 

In regard to noise in commercial spaces, Coun. Mike Harper asked what the community can expect for music and entertainment – specifically the difference between an indoor and outdoor venue.

Kelly said more on this will come after public consultation and that the noise limit, which used to be set to 2 a.m., is proposed to move back to 11 p.m., noting how close in proximity to residents many establishments are.

Coun. Phil St. Jean noted in the draft noise bylaw, the penalties for a corporation and an individual are the same cost, and should be looked at after public consultation.

Kelly said staff can also look into noise meter systems to identify complaints versus legitimate noise offences, and would work with local OPP officials as they “respond to 90 per cent of the calls after hours.”

The new noise bylaw will be brought back to council by May 2021.