"New" Traffic Bylaw Up For Some Changes
It was a bylaw which originally sought to make it illegal to rollerskate, rollerblade and skateboard on Main Street North from Saskatchewan Street to Manitoba Street and despite finally eliminating this option it was up again for more tweaking at this past Monday night’s meeting of Executive Committee.
But this time it was looking at such things as lights on bicycles at night, mandatory wearing of bicycle helmets by those under 16 and free Downtown parking for people with disability placards were some of the changes up for discussion.
The Traffic Bylaw in its present form has been enacted for almost a year and took force June 11, 2018.
“Following public inquiries and internal issues that arose in almost a year an internal committee of Administration was created consisting of engineers, bylaw enforcement officers, solicitiors and the police service which included commissionaires as most of the bylaw parking issues as well,” assistant city solicitor Katelyn Soltys told the committee.
Free Disability Placard Parking
Soltys said the number one issue brought forward from the public was the issue of free unlimited metered parking the previous bylaw allowed those with disability parking placards whereas the present bylaw has no such provision. Under the present bylaw vehicles with disability parking placards have to pay the same meter rate as those without.
At the present time there is a moratorium in place and those with disability parking placards are not required to plug the meters until a solution can be found.
Soltys spelled out three options for disability placard parking used elsewhere in the province.
The options were the status quo - unlimited parking at a meter with no requirement for a City issued permit - then there was Regina and Saskatoon who issue and charge for permits (Regina allows a person to park for three hours at a metered spot and Saskatoon has no time limit) or what Weyburn and Prince Albert do and that is not have no parking permits and no exemptions.
Soltys said the Traffic Services Advisory Committee (TSAC) had made the recommendation to allow three free hour metered parking with a disability parking placard and no fee and permit charged by the City. TSAC had derived tth three hour figure based upon a recommendation from the Special Needs Advisory Committee (SNAC).
Veterans Plate Parking
In the area of those with Veterans license place Soltys said there was not as many concerns raised.
In the end TSAC had recommended allowing those with veterans’ plates to park at a metered spot for free but only as long as the metered area allowed.
If for instance the metered area was for two hours then the veterans plate vehicle would be allowed two hour free parking. If the metered space was for a shorter time period then the time period allowed by the meter would be the free parking limit.
TSAC also went on to recommend some changes to other parking permits already issued.
The committee recommended the $120 annual fee continue for taxis, delivery vehicles and commercial vehicles.
TSAC recommended an exemption for RCMP vehicles and non-profit health care vehicles.
There were recommendations made regarding the Chief of Police being able to issue parking permits to those attending conventions at the rate of 25 cents per day.
“TSAC recommended the few move to ten dollars tro make up for lost meter revenue and administration costs,” Soltys said.
Soltys said there needed to be changes to the bylaw to allow for paying a bicycle helmet ticket without having to attend court as the present bylaw only allows. Everyone under 16 years of age is required by the Traffic Bylaw to wear a bicycle helmet.
“This is a scary process to receive this violation there is no process to allow them to avoid prosecution through the courts,” Soltys stated, adding the police found the process “paper encumbersome and not really necessary.”
“(Keep in mind it will) only be used in circumstances where required and ticketing would only be issued in extreme cases,” Soltys said.
Lights on bicycles at night was a concern brought forward by the Moose Jaw Police Service (MJPS).
“For lights on bicycles here was concern on how it was worded in the bylaw to ensure there was visibility of individuals in the night,” she said.
Stop Arm Lights On School Buses
The issue of stop arms being put down to stop traffic while loading and unloading school children was discussed by TSAC.
TSAC said they had safety concerns because it taught children it was OK to cross the street where there was no crosswalk. TSAC recommended a communication camaign around school buses and not changing the bylaw.
Under the bylaw school busses cannot legally engage their cross arms and lights to stop arm to stop traffic when loading or unloading school children.
Parking Fines Doubling
TSAC reccomended a change in the bylaw to reflect the Operating Budget raising the minimum parking fine from $10 to $20.
Police Patrolling Private Lots
MJPS requested the removal of the provision of their patrolling private parking lots and that the owners of private lots be required to patrol their own lots and tow vehicles which are not suppose to be there.
NOTE it is unknown if ths change would no longer allow the MJPS to ticket people for parking in spots designated for people with disability placards. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission makes the provision of these spots mandatory.
Parking Close To Downtown
TSAC decided to deny the request for parking restrictions during longer events at Mosaic Place in front of businesses as there was only one business raising a concern.
TSAC also decided against installing more parking meters as they felt by doing so it would simply move the problem of employess working in the Downtown to a different area.
Soltys said TSAC found parking restrictions for events in the area of Mosaic Place would “be damaging to the City’s reputation and punish them for parking oin close vicinity to Mosaic Place.”
RV Parking Restrictions
TSAC also discussed restoring the previous 48 parking restriction when it came to RVs. In the previous bylaw once an RV had used up the allotted time to park on the street they could not repark on the street for 48 hours.
The MJPS said they were not in favour of restoring this provision to the Traffic Bylaw.
Soltys said MJPS said the provision was “not palaptable, not enforced under the previous bylaw and very difficult to enforce under this bylaw.”
In the discussion Councillor Scott McMann asked about the provision for eligible City employees to get placards to allow free parking in metered areas and if it was going to be issued to all City employees.
“That will be for City staff who use their vehicles for work purposes,” Soltys replied.
On the issue of RV parking Councillor McMann said it is one of the issues he hears a lot of concerns from citizens about.
“….we have a bylaw we cannot enforce and people leave these things for weeks on end. I thought it was a pretty good suggestion that they cannot come back for 48 hours,” Councillor McMann stated, adding it seemed people could simply move their RV an inch to comply with the bylaw.
Soltys said police had discretion when it came to enforcement of the bylaw and “moving an inch is not enough in some police officers’ minds.”
She said people if they have a concern need to call MJPS right away and not wait the 48 hours as the police would then need to monitor the vehicle for another 48 hours.
RVs are presently allowed by the Traffic Bylaw to park on the street for 48 hours in one spot.
“Will the City respond?” McMann asked adding he had spoken to people who have called and MJPS never showed up.
“I cannot force police to respond i there are priority issues out there…those are within their mandate to tell officers how to service the city,” Soltys responded.
Councillor McMann stated he understood the need for MJPS to respond to higher priority calls but it cannot be the answer for every call.
“Its an issue and needs to be looked after,” he said.
Councillor Brian Swanson asked about the bicycle helmet portion of the bylaw and what was meant by officer discretion.
“What would be an extreme case? You either have a helmet on or you don’t,” Councillor Swanson said.
Soltys said she could not directly comment for the police but did provide an example.
“It would not be a one time circumstance. It would be an individual who refuses to wear a helmet even when the parents have been educate…police have discretion on any law out there whether to issue a ticket or not. And I would imagine it would depend upon an individual’s behaviour or not I would imagine as well.”
Councillor Swanson then moved to the proposal to move the cost of free metered parking placards from the present 25 cents to ten dollars as something Council should not move towards as it would not encourage needed conventions to the city.
“I would not support that. I think if there is one weak link in our tourism economy we are not or don’t have as many conventions as we should/ And I would suggest telling a convention that is bringing in 100 people to town we need a thousands bucks from them for parking permits is not an advantageous thing for us to do…To charge ten dollars for a parking permit I don’t think is going to help us,” Councillor Swanson stated.
Councillor Heather Eby asked about the problems around Mosaic Place getting parking tickets while watching curling draws in the 2015 Scotties.
“In 2015 there was a huge problem for people parking around Mosaic Place for two hours and a curling draw takes three sometimes four (hours). So we were having people come in all of the time with parking tickets…If there is a way we can deal wit that…I do think we need to address that as it was very negative at the time,” Councillor Eby stated.
Councillor Dawn Luhning questioned the need for the bicycle helmet provision in the bylaw.
“I am still not sure if this is something that I personally even want to have in the bylaw. If it is there we need some way to enforce it,” Councillor Luhining said, adding “I completely understand people want their kids to wear helmets I just don’t know how we are going to issue tickets to these children.”
Responding city clerk/solicitor Myron Gulka-Teichko said it was something MJPS was insistent to be in the bylaw.
“They believe very firmly that it prevents a lot of injuries frankly and a lot of the long term injuries for kids that have accidents,: he said, adding MJPS saw it as a provision where the majority of people would come to follow the rule like seat belt use in vehicles.
“…if you get attitude from a person who is repeatedly not wearing that helmet then you have to apply that stick as opposed to the carrot,” Gulka-Teichko stated.
Councillor Luhining said she had been in touch with the business that required available parking in front of their business in order to stay in business she had spoken to Administration and they were looking at a loading zone idea in front of the business. The loading zone would allow the business to remain viable by allowing people to drop off and pick up equipment during events like the Scotties.
“I want Council to understand this is an issue for this business. And we should respect the fact it is a long standing business in the city that has come to us with concerns.” Councillor Luhning said.
Councillor Chris Warren spoke to the need to re-imcorporate the free parking provisions to those with disability parking placards as well as veterans.
“We want to ensure free parking was brought back in but we also wanted to find a balance of both allowing parking to exist but also not negatively affecting the adjacent business owners,” Councillor Warren stated.
Councillor Swanson made an amendment that prior to the final bylaw changes coming back to Council that administration approach Visit Moose Jaw be approached to add input about convention parking and the amendment was carried.
The amended motion was carried with the final amendments to Traffic Bylaw coming back for final Council approval at a later date.