FOR THE GAZETTE
A local resort owner in Prince Edward County is speaking out against a motion to restrict parking along County Road 7 at Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park.
At Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Ryan Kreutzwiser, second generation owner of the family owned and operated Lake on the Mountain Resort, said the approval of the result would ‘essentially cripple a thriving business and destroy a much loved tourist destination.’
“The restrictions of roadside parking to our commercial establishment is an attack on common sense and would undoubtedly have many consequences,” he said.
Kreutzwiser owns both restaurants on the property, the Inn and the Miller House, as well as the Inn Resort. He said the team is able to employ 50 local staff through all sites, and can accommodate a total of 160 guests at the restaurants.
The site consists of 40 parking spaces, he said, and roadside parking that the business has relied on for its 29 years of operation provides another 40 spaces. The original motion provided in an updated parking by-law in February restricted parking on the south side of County Road 7, nearest the provincial park.
Coun. Stewart Bailey amended the motion to include both sides of the road for safety reasons – namely, speed. This recommended restriction would limit parking to the park as well as the entire strip of road of the business properties, Kreutzwiser added. Rhyming off several of the negative consequences, he said parking for Lake on the Mountain would be pushed further down the road, increasing the safety hazard rather than decreasing one.
“Provincial Park and resort patrons [would be] parking in more dangerous areas and walking excessive distances along the winding, narrow County Road in some areas with a higher speed limit.”
A lack of nearby paved roadside parking would eliminate accessible parking for those with mobility issues or disabilities, he added. Another outcome would be the loss of a large number of jobs that employ local residents as well as a direct loss of benefits to the local economy that the businesses contribute to in terms of food and beverage purchases, he said.
“To be perfectly clear, we would no longer be a viable business should the motion be adopted, and for what? This does not in any way create a safer environment. As owners and operators of the resort directly to the west of the Provincial Park, we are present all day every single day through the six-month tourist season, witnessing first hand any issues that arise in the area and therefore would have been obvious stakeholders in which to consult,” Kreutzwiser said.
Valerie Barclay, vacation rental owner of Loyalist House, has owed the property for eight years. She said while running the business, she relies on high-quality restaurants close by and was worried what this proposed amendment would mean for the company. Kreutzwiser suggested maximized parking spaces within the park itself could solve the issue.
Other solutions he posed included a speed limit decrease to 40 kilometres per hour in peak tourist season, expanding the 50-kilometre speed limit zone on each side of County Road 7, installing ample parking signs that are visible on the north side of the road to oncoming traffic, and restricting park parking to a three-hour limit.
“Although speed is the primary safety issue, we feel there are some parking improvements warranted. The few known parking signs that currently exist on the south side of the road in the park are not properly placed or oriented towards oncoming traffic. The result is visitors not knowing they are parking illegally and are therefore creating blind spots,” he explained. “This can be seen in the number of parking violations that have been issued over the last few years. This is something that can be easily remedied by adding more signs.”
He said in 2016, a former councillor requisitioned a digital speed indicator on the mountain which did “exceptionally well at reducing vehicle speed” and suggested a basic flashing warning sign of the community safety zone would also be of benefit. A local bed and breakfast operator, Harold Braden, who spent 15 years working as a traffic engineer, said there should be three parties involved – the County, the province and the owner of the resort.
“If there is a serious incident then the injured party can litigate against all three parties since the hazards have been publicly addressed and documented,” he said.
“The County can and should establish limits on parking, particularly in the vicinity of the curve west of the resort.” Braden suggested the County charge for parking which could allow funds for the province to build a crosswalk from the parking lot to the provincial park.
Coun. Jamie Forrester agreed there should be some kind of compromise between the County and resort staff, asking what Kreutzwiser has done to pick up extra parking spaces on the site.
“We are dealing with a constrained geographic area of land against the lake. We do have the existing cottages as well and we can not really eat into the space for those patrons or the small amount of green space that they have,” Kreutzwiser answered.
He also noted when the Inn was rezoned 30 years ago, and the Miller house was rezoned nine years ago, major septic systems and beds were put in that also take up extra green space.
“We are open as a family and business owners to talk with the County if they have suggestions, but we have tried to maximize the amount of on site parking,” he said.
He asked Council two final questions; how does the motion make things safer and why risk shutting down a long-standing and successful business and eliminate jobs to achieve something that will create more safety hazards? He also asked Council to rescind the amended motion to restrict parking spaces and hold the original safety bylaw to explore quality measures to combat the speed issues. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer may very well be as busy if not more in the coming months, however public safety remains a top concern, Mayor Steve Ferguson said.
“I do not think the number of people visiting Lake on the Mountain is going to diminish once we get out of the pandemic,” he said. “That being the case, we have to ensure and keep top of mind the safety of people that are frequenting the park or either of your establishments.”
Council voted to receive the deputations. The matter is expected to come back before Council April 27