Council reviews options for parking at Mono Cliffs

December 10, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Parking problems on Third Line at Mono Cliffs Provincial Park was top of mind at Mono Council’s meeting on Tuesday.

The issue has been of growing concern this year, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic’s restrictions on most forms of recreation. With outdoor hiking being one of the few things people can still do, the Park has seen a dramatic increase in use this year, especially on weekends.

Unfortunately, the parking lot can only accommodate perhaps, 150 cars and so the overflow has been lining both sides of Third Line and seriously restricting road access for not only cars, but for the frequent agricultural machinery that also traverses the Third Line. In addition, local residents have been complaining about trespassing, littering and even individuals using people’s front yards to relieve themselves.

Attending the meeting, were Jillian Van Niekerk and Mike Toutant from the Provincial Park. Both came to open dialogue with the Council to try and find a solution to the problem.

Jillian expressed a desire to hear Council’s ideas for solutions, admitting that she did not have an immediate cure. Mayor Ryan said that instituting a No Parking zone at the Park, would likely only move the parking either north or south of the park and wondered if it could expand its current parking lot to accommodate more vehicles.

She noted that the arrangement between the County along Hockley Road where no parking signs and a new parking lot were installed, seemed to work well. Councillor Nix noted that the Park was losing money with the roadside parking, as people who walk into the Park do not have to pay the parking fee and so enter for free. Jillian responded that only Springwater Park charges for walk ins, but it’s administered by Bosely First Nations.

In response to enlarging the parking lot, Jillian answered that the Park can’t do that, either financially or environmentally. However, they are considering a new lot on Second Line at that Park entrance. It would be the same size as the one on Third Line.

Mayor Ryan was first to bring up the enforcement issue. Mono is paying the tab for enforcement, but they are not creating the problem.

Jillian said that three extra wardens are onsite from April until Thanksgiving and they run Parks at Mono Cliffs, Forks of the Credit and Hockley. They’re also willing to work with the Town on enforcement issues. They would be willing to consider by-law enforcement if it would work and are currently discussing this approach with Caledon for Forks of the Credit.

She said that in Caledon they are part of a working group with staff and wondered if that might work with Mono.

They had people at Forks of the Credit to manage onsite parking but were not involved in by-law enforcement at that time. People would park on the road and pay the $45 ticket regardless and just walk into the Park. It required either police of by-law officers to get them to move.

At this point, Councillor Nix asked if the 2nd Line parking lot was in the draft operational plan that Jillian was sending to her managers and if so, how long would construction take? The answer was yes and if approved, would be ready for the fall colours in 2021. In other words, one year from now.

Deputy Mayor Creelman asked what the Park’s response was to litter and was told that staff are expected to pick up any litter in the park.

There were extra staff available for this in the Fall and more staff were in the proposed operating plan. The deputy mayor then asked if local residents who regularly pick up litter in Mono Cliffs could be given free park access. Jillian said this is not Parks Ontario policy, but it could be a topic for discussion. Her concerns revolved around setting troublesome precedents.

Councillors Manktelow and Martin both liked the 2nd Line parking lot, however they both wanted to see something happen right now, before there is a serious accident on 3rd Line. Manktelow was of the opinion that winter snows would only aggravate the problem.

CAO Mark Early felt that a working group would be of limited use until the operational plan was functional. Then they would know what they had to work with. Jillian said that there were some things that could be done without operational plan approval. This is a priority for both her and Ontario Parks.

Concerning the 2nd Line option, Director of Public Works, Michael Dunmore felt that 2nd Line had too many trees, which only adds to the cost of building the parking lot.

He wondered if the Province had looked at 3rd Line and 25 Sideroad? Dunmore said the land was flat and open and would be easy to build the lot on.

Jillian responded that at this time, they are looking at an acre opposite to the schools on 2nd.

Mike also said that his men followed up on a complaint about litter and could not find any, however the Parks bin was overflowing. He commented that the Park staff had picked it all up prior to 7 a.m. and commended them on doing so. The suggestion of a Take it In-Take it Out campaign might work, as it does well in Algonquin Park. Jillian thought this might be worth consideration and would make a note.

Mike said that he doubted that the parking problem would exist in the winter months, but who knows for certain. He would certainly be willing to be a part of a working group.

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