Potential parking issues during Sunfest generated much discussion at the Town of Lake Cowichan’s Public Works and Environmental Services committee meeting as councillors debated how best to manage the town’s public parking spaces at a time when a large influx of motorists is anticipated.
The council and staff discussed a list of available parking areas in the town, and which of these areas should be designated pay parking during the Sunfest weekend to be controlled by volunteer organizations who could then keep the money raised through parking fees.
“Personally I think it’s a good opportunity for non-profit groups. I think it’s a service they will be providing the community by having some control over parking, [during] what is probably going to be a busy weekend,” said Mayor Ross Forrest. “If it’s just everybody for themselves, you’re going to have people parking everywhere out here.”
He put forward a motion that the town offer up its public parking for non-profits through LEAD’s Sunfest welcoming committee.
Coun. Tim McGonigle expressed some concerns about how charging for parking could potentially impact businesses, particularly in central locations like Saywell Park.
He also pointed out the logistical challenges of charging for parking along parts of South Shore Road without proper infrastructure like meters.
“I do support it because we will need the parking, but I think we may have a learning experience in the first year of seeing how this works. I’m finding that that might be problematic,” he said.
McGonigle said he felt council should offer up (to LEAD organizers) the parking spaces the town has control over but should not get involved with the actual management of those areas during Sunfest.
“What they do with them should not be a policy at this table,” he said.
Coun. Bob Day spoke up against the motion, which would see all town-owned parking areas potentially open to pay parking that weekend. He said he did not like the idea of charging for parking at places like Greendale Park, the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena or the boat launch.
“If I was going to offer anything up to this group, I would offer the closest parking location to town or the two or three [closest], the Stanley Gordon [School] or Centennial Park and that’s where they could charge,” he said, referring to earlier comments that Stanley Gordon School could potentially be available for parking that weekend.
“That’s what I would recommend. Pick a large location and make that a place to do business but leave the other ones as they are the rest of the year.”
However, superintendent of public works Nagy Rizk pointed out that Centennial Park may not be available for parking due to construction.
Ultimately, the original motion was defeated and council unanimously decided to provide a list of town-owned parking spaces to LEAD’s Sunfest committee, asking them to select the parking areas where they would like to offer pay parking, pending final approval by council.
Council also directed staff to contact the school district about the possible availability of Stanley Gordon School for parking.