Free parking debate shows Mono overlooks revenue streams

March 2, 2023   ·   0 Comments


Mono is missing out on revenue by waiving user fees for facilities and providing free parking for outdoor events.

As such, town council voted during a Feb. 28 meeting not to allow a pair of hiking clubs to use parking areas at the Mono Community Centre free of charge.

The Caledon Hills and the Dufferin Hi-Lands Bruce Trail Clubs have requested the use of the parking areas at Mono Community Centre for three one-day Bruce Trail hiking events.

The events are slated for May 7, May 13, and Jun. 17.

The May 13 outing won’t require parking as participants are being dropped off by buses. That day didn’t present a problem.

About 80 or 90 vehicles can be parked in the three parking areas at the centre.

Because of the number of vehicles expected for events on May 7 and Jun. 17, the community centre hall can’t be rented on those days.

“I’m personally of the view that if they want it, they pay for it,” said Mayor John Creelman. “And we then develop a policy going forward.

“I can’t support the notion of just letting them have it for free and all the attendant chaos that will occur.”

Councillor Melinda Davie said it’s very important to offer services to Mono residents. As council is in the midst of inking its 2023 capital and operating budgets, there could be money made to ease taxpayer burden.

“Why are we not considering renting our parking lot out?” she said. “Why are there not fees for this?”

Coun. Ralph Manktelow wondered if the money they’re missing out on can be tallied.

Kim Heaton, the town’s recreation director, said the banquet room rents out for about $800 for the day on Sundays. On Saturdays, that banquet hall runs $1,100 for the day.

“That does not include if they want to rent the lower level, which is an addition to those,” Heaton said.

The Caledon Hills crowd initially asked to have their event at the facility on May 7. That’s a Saturday, and Heaton said she refused that date because of potential lost revenue to the town.

“They very kindly changed the date of their event to the Sunday to hopefully alleviate any challenges,” she said.

Deputy Mayor Fred Nix said the town does a lot for the Bruce Trail club as it is. In the bigger scheme of things, it’s a community event much like Mono’s annual WinterFest, he said.

People who may come out for the hiking clubs’ events could possibly be turned on to holding a future event at the community centre, Nix said.

He asked if it would be possible for people to park their vehicles on the grass at the south side of the community centre.

Heaton said that’s to be the location of tennis courts that will be constructed throughout the summer. And that, she said, will further constrain parking options.

Work on new tennis courts and related infrastructure at Mono Centre is to begin on May 15 and be completed by Oct. 30. Construction will take up some of the parking spaces.

Coun. Elaine Capes said it’s important for the town to track possible lost revenue.

“So if I heard it correctly, it’s about a $1,900 loss of revenue for those two events that require the parking lot,” Capes said.

People have called to rent the venue and have been added to a waitlist to get it, she said.

“At this time, the individuals have gone elsewhere,” Heaton said.

“So it is lost revenue,” Capes said.

“We’ve already lost it,” Creelman said.

“It’s lost,” Capes said. “Any time that we’re granting (free use), are we keeping track of the lost revenue?”

Heaton said they do keep track of costs whenever council waives user fees.

“But in this scenario, because it’s a little bit different, it needed to be brought to your attention,” Heaton said. “Even though we’re not renting out the hall to the group, by them using our parking we are losing the possibility of renting out the hall.”

Manktelow said most places charge for parking by the public. And if the town charged the hikers even $10, Mono would be able to recoup at least some lost revenue.

“I don’t like to see us losing revenue, given that this is budget time,” he said.

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