Sylvan council mulls pay parking concerns

Town council to hold special meeting on Wednesday after residents raise concerns about pay parking

Sylvan Lake’s new pay parking is hitting some bumps.

The town announced last July that it was introducing visitor pay parking in the lakeshore and downtown areas.

Paid parking was originally anticipated to begin on May 1. However, problems with an online parking system, through which residents could apply for their free parking permits, caused delays.

It was also determined that five hard-wired parking pay stations would cost more than anticipated. As a remedy, it was decided to use solar power, as was planned for five other pay stations.

The start date for pay parking was pushed back to June 8. Planned rates are $2 per hour and $10 per day.

In the meantime, town hall has been receiving concerns from various community members and business owners about the impact of pay parking.

Churches have expressed concern that nearby parking will be reserved for homeowners’ use and won’t be available for those attending services, funerals or weddings.

Doctors at the Sylvan Lake Medical Centre said taking away nearby free parking could lead to patients switching to other practices. As well, elderly patients, or those with mobility issues, will be inconvenienced.

There have also been complaints from some summer village and Red Deer County residents, who live near the town, that they are not eligible for free parking status.

Likewise, non-resident employees of local businesses would not get free parking. Using a free parking lot could mean long walks in bad weather and at night, business people argue.

Town council has called a special meeting on Wednesday afternoon to discuss parking concerns and possible options.

“We’re just supposed to be giving options that could be implemented this year if council decides to direct such changes,” said town communications officer Joanne Gaudet.

Staff had recommended trying out pay parking for a year and then consider any changes following a review.

Whether council will opt to make last-minute changes won’t be known until the special meeting.

“I just know that basically it’s a direct response to a lot of the public concerns that have been expressed, either online or otherwise,” said Gaudet.

“(Council) is sensitive to that and they’re responsive to that.”

The special meeting takes place in council chambers beginning at 4 p.m. and is open to the public.

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