Parking to be prohibited along both sides of County Road 7 at LOTM

Concerns over parking at Lake-on-the-Mountain will need to be addressed further at the Traffic Advisory Committee. (Lakeonthemountain.com)

OLIVIA TIMM

FOR THE GAZETTE

Parking along County Road 7 around the area of  Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park will be prohibited from the former Glenora United Church to east of the park.

Municipal staff have been directed to examine further traffic calming measures by way of the Traffic Advisory Committee for more information, after much discussion surrounding procedural processes.

Mayor Ferguson said there is a procedural concern as part of the parking item on Tuesday’s agenda, specifically as it relates to Lake on the Mountain parking.

Chad Curtis, Municipal Clerk, clarified the original and amended motions, which took place at the Feb. 24 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The original motion restricted parking on both sides of County Road 7 adjacent to Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park for a distance of 111 metres. An amended motion, moved by Coun. Stewart Bailey and seconded by Coun. Brad Nieman, replaced that wording with restricted parking from 230 County Road 7 to 326 County Road 7 on both sides of the road, Curtis explained.

“If you look at the report and the schedules, that has not been captured,” he said. 

Curtis, along with Chief Administrative Officer, Marcia Wallace, explained the procedural process, saying that council could vote to reconsider the original motion which was passed at February’s council meeting following the prior Committee of the Whole meeting – but would require two-thirds majority vote from council to move forward.

“We have a report that has recommendations that breaks the procedural rule about bringing something forward too soon,” CAO Wallace said. 

The motion to reconsider the amended motion did not pass two-thirds majority, which resulted in parking matters related to Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park and County Road 7 being taken off the table for discussions.

Coun. MacNaughton asked how large of an impact the decision had on the item itself and if it removes all references to Lake on the Mountain.

CAO Wallace reminded staff that traffic matters can go to the Traffic Advisory Committee at any time, for them to add to a future agenda, discuss, and bring something forward to council. 

“Parking at Lake on the Mountain is removed for conversation and the staff recommendation included a combination of things which I think dangerously comes close to revisiting the motion, so my recommendation is that if anyone is interested they can seek a conversation as part of a future traffic agenda,” she clarified.

Kathy Harris, Glenora resident, while appreciating the safety concerns, also questioned the ethicacy of the proposed solution put forward by Coun. Stewart Bailey.

“Traffic studies and research reveal that prohibiting parking and creating a visually wider stretch of road will actually lead to increased vehicular travel speeds and greater danger to pedestrians,” she said. “I therefore ask that the motion be revoked.”

Harris said studies have shown one of the simplest and most effective traffic calming measures is to allow parking on both sides of a road.

She cited several solutions, including installation of a pedestrian crosswalk, painting black and white stripes to indicate a pedestrian pathway, painting the word ‘slow’ on the road itself, using radar speed signs like the one entering Bloomfield, lowering the speed limit, increasing speed limit enforcement measures, and installing flashing lights above speed limit signs to draw awareness to them.

“How will eliminating road side parking up at Lake on the Mountain increase safety and what studies or research findings are there that can be cited to support this?” she asked.

Harold Bratten, resident of Lake on the Mountain, said he has spent a considerable part of his career as a traffic engineer and is aware of the kinds of issues that are before council.

“Although the proposal in today’s staff report is substantially less than that originally unanimously approved by council, I’m happy to see that something is being done,” he said. “However the current report states that parking be prohibited on both sides of the road for a distance of 111 metres adjacent to Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park, whether this means both east and west of the park is not clear.”

North Marysburgh Councillor Stewart Bailey. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

Bratten addressed several concerns surrounding safety and zoning.

“One of the suggestions made by resort ownership was expansion of the provincially owned parking lot. This may improve the situation, but should not be the only action by the province,” he said. “The parking lot on the north side of County Road 7 is for patrons of the park on the south side. Recognizing this, in 2003, almost 20 years ago, it was recommended that the province provide a fence so as to limit road crossing to one spot. The fence has never been constructed.”

He suggested council request the province to install the fence as well as fund a crosswalk as an urgent matter to improve safety. 

“I have been happy to see very recently that some action is being taken including opening an area of which I believe should have been designated and signed as Miller House parking, but which last year was blocked and signed as a private drive,” Bratten explained. “The inadequate parking at Miller House is one issue that contributes to the potentially deadly situation. Some reference may be made to the 2013 Ontario Municipal Board decision regarding an appeal of the parking of the zoning bylaw concerning Miller House.”

He referenced part of the OMB decision which states “special zoning provisions are proposed which will limit the seating capacity to 75.”

Bratten said he was surprised that being aware of the 75 capacity of the Miller House restaurant, said the existing nine parking spaces were “more than adequate.”

Bratten referenced restaurant owner Ryan Kreutzwiser’s assessment at the February Committee of the Whole meeting, that there are generally two patrons per car, so with a seating capacity of 75, would require at least 37 spaces – not nine.

“Reference was made at the Committee of the Whole to the fact that there have been no events or injuries over the past 29 years. This is not justification for not fully addressing a situation described by staff as potentially deadly. Tourist trips to Lake on the Mountain are very different to those 29 or even 10 years ago,” he explained. “My mentor in the field of traffic engineering told me we should never rely on the fact that there have been no incidents as indicative that there are no problems.”

In response to suggestions surrounding speed limit reductions, Bratten said speed limits are really only adhered to when people know there is a good chance of getting caught. 

“There is more than ample research that shows the probability of being caught is a far greater deterrent than the size or the nature of the penalty. A sign showing what speed one is doing might help. However, consistent visible enforcement is the key. Consequently the Ontario Provincial Police have a significant role to play in conjunction with the lower speed limit imposed by the County. Council should request the OPP to provide such enforcement, perhaps even speed cameras should be installed,” he suggested.

Ryan Kreutzwiser, second generation owner of Lake on the Mountain Resort, thanked council for engaging with his family on this situation as well as the chair and staff of the Traffic Advisory Committee for coming to assess the situation first hand.

“I’m here to stress the importance of road side parking adjacent to our commercial property; to our business,” he said. “Over the last 30 years that we have been there, we can attest to the fact that the safest times at Lake on the Mountain are when vehicles are parked roadside because it slows vehicular traffic down.”

Though calming measures and speed control decisions will be made after consultation with the County’s Traffic Advisory Committee, Municipal Clerk Chad Curtis said parking at the site has been decided in regard to the original motion and cannot be revised for a year as per the procedural bylaw.

CAO Wallace added after the motion was passed by council in February, staff changed their opinions, which cannot happen after an item has already been approved.

Council referred the matter to the County’s Traffic Advisory Committee to discuss traffic calming measures, speed control and further parking recommendation to be ready to put in place in 2022. 

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story has been edited to provide a clearer explanation of the both the parking restrictions and what issues will be forwarded to the Traffic Advisory Committee.