Changes to Parking Bylaw Coming

The Community Services Standing Committee proposed some changes to the parking bylaws that will affect Miltonians.

Back in November, Ward 5 Councillor Arnold Huffman asked staff to prepare a report on the current parking bylaw to see if it would be valid to change it from the current 3hr maximum parking and change it to 5hr along with adding no overnight parking.

I don’t have a vote on the committee but I mentioned last night that if we are to change this bylaw there should be a compelling business case to do so.  And in my opinion, there wasn’t such a case made.

The staff report concluded that it would be beneficial to keep the current law and if it was changed to 5 hours there would have to be significant changes made to the shift of our bylaw officers.  The parking bylaw services are contracted out, meaning they are not Town of Milton employees.  Here is the text of the report.

Report to: Chair and Members of Community Services Standing Committee

From: M. Paul Cripps, P.Eng., Director, Engineering Services Date: March 5, 2012

Report No. ENG-003-12

Subject: Parking Enforcement – Three Hour Limitation, Parking Considerations, First Attendance

RECOMMENDATION: THAT Staff Report ENG-003-12 regarding Councillor Huffman’s request to review raising the three hour parking limit to five hours, while not permitting parking from 2:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m., along with reviewing the parking consideration program be received;

AND THAT the existing three hour parking by-law remains in effect and that the parking consideration and first attendance programs continue to operate as noted in Report ENG-003-12.

REPORT

Background

Currently, the parking by-law within the Town of Milton is three hours unless otherwise posted. The three hour parking by-law is fairly standard throughout many municipalities in the surrounding area, with the exception of the Town of Halton Hills, which recently changed their on street parking by-law from three hours to five hours.

The three hour parking limit has been developed to provide short term parking for guests and to encourage clear, uncluttered residential streets. The three hour parking limit also:

• encourages residents to provide off street parking for the number of vehicles they own;

• allows for road maintenance activities including road repairs, snow removal, sanding/salting, street cleaning;

• helps to facilitate the weekly collection of residential garbage;

• helps to minimize the difficulty of backing out of, or accessing a private driveway;

• controls the problem of derelict vehicles;

• improves the traffic flow on residential streets

Response

Three Hour Parking By-law

Staff surveyed a number of area municipalities with respect to their parking by-law and their exemption program. The following Cities/Towns have been surveyed: Towns of Halton Hills, Oakville and the Cities of Burlington, Vaughan, Cambridge, Brampton and Mississauga. All of the surveyed municipalities have a three hour parking by-law with many of them prohibiting parking from 2:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m. (yearly or seasonally) with the exception of Halton Hills, which has a five hour by-law and No Parking 2:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m. November 15 – April 15. It should be noted that with the new five hour parking by-law in Halton Hills, when a complaint is received for on street parking, the officers will issue a warning tag first, prior to issuing a tag. All surveyed municipalities have parking consideration programs similar to the program within the Town of Milton.

It should be noted that the Town of Milton also has a program that allows residents to apply for extended 15 hour parking on their street involving a petition and questionnaire process. This program has been available since 2003 and to date there are only eight locations within the Town of Milton where extended parking has been approved, while over 150 streets have been reviewed. The lack of positive response to the questionnaires issued by the Town related to extended parking would indicate that the majority of residents support the current three hour parking by-law.

Over 90% of the enforcement requests (approximately 1150 from 2011) that the Town has received are for enforcement of the three hour parking by-law, particularly overnight parking. Residents tend to use their garages for storage instead of parking of a vehicle.

The Engineering Services Department doesn’t support changing the on street parking by-law from three hours to five hours, as this would create enforcement issues for the Town and be operationally disruptive. It should be noted that the three hour parking bylaw is enforced on a complaint basis similar to surrounding municipalities. Currently, our parking enforcement officers work an eight hour shift. The first three hours of their shift is used for chalking vehicles and after the chalking has been completed, the officers can then return to the streets to issue parking infraction notices. Enforcement of the three hour limit takes up the majority of the night shift for the officer and it should be noted that the Town receives several new requests for enforcement each day. It is also important to note that the same officer that chalks the vehicle has to issue the parking infraction notice. If the parking by-law was changed to five hours, this would only allow our officers approximately one hour to chalk; therefore all of the complaints would not be attended to, resulting in a decrease in level of service.

In 2003, the parking by-law in the Town of Milton was three hours unless otherwise posted and parking was prohibited from 2:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m., November 15 – April 15 for winter control. This was subsequently changed to allow three hour parking at anytime, because if a storm occurred at night, the plows would be concentrating on clearing the arterial and collector roads first. With the introduction of the “Allow the Plow” campaign the number of vehicles tagged for impeding snow removal has been reduced.

Parking Considerations

With respect to the parking consideration program, residents who are having driveway or home renovations completed are currently required to use their 18 parking considerations per plate per year. Parking Enforcement does approve extensions under extenuating circumstances, such as relatives living with family until a new home is built (with proof), university/college students home for the summer, etc. This process has been in place for a number of years with very few complaints from the residents.

Residents/guests are able to obtain a parking consideration by calling Parking Enforcement directly or on the Town’s web site. Some municipalities actually sell permits to residents/visitors once they have exhausted their permitted parking considerations. Implementing a process such as this would not be feasible due to limited human resources. It is therefore recommended that the parking consideration program remain as is and residents requiring extended parking considerations continue to contact Parking Enforcement and their request will be reviewed on an individual basis.

Effective immediately, should a resident be having home renovations or driveway work completed by a contractor, they will be required to use five (5) of their 18 parking considerations per plate per vehicle and then can apply for an extended permit if required. They would be required to send Parking Enforcement a request with all of the required information (name, phone #, address, license plate numbers of vehicles that require on street parking, and proof from the contractor that work is being done and when it will be completed).

First Attendance

Currently, the Town of Milton operates a First Attendance Facility, which allows the recipient of a parking infraction notice to come to Town Hall and fill out paperwork should they wish to dispute their parking infraction notice. This process must be done in person, which is consistent with all other municipalities and the same as someone disputing a Highway Traffic Act charge. First Attendance is not the type of program that can operate online. Presently, Parking Enforcement doesn’t fax or e-mail the First Attendance forms to recipients. Effective immediately, should a recipient of a parking infraction notice wish to have the First Attendance forms e-mailed or faxed to them this can be done, saving them some time when they appear at First Attendance.

Financial Impact

There is no financial impact associated with Report ENG-003-12.

Respectfully submitted,

M. Paul Cripps, P. Eng.

Director, Engineering Services

Staff advised the committee  last night that these changes will bring about potential increases in the cost of providing the service to Milton residents.  He said the cost increases could be in the range of $32,000 to $64,000 per year given the changes to the contract we have.  Mayor Gord Krantz asked staff last night if this is a money making venture, does it lose money or does it break even.  He felt that this is something we shouldnt be making money on and Mr Cripps advised, not knowing the numbers he felt this service broke even.

Whats going to happen after this?  If the costs go up, revenue must increase to make it a break even venture.  More revenue means more tickets for Milton residents.

In my opinion, there wasnt a compelling case made to change the bylaw from 3 to 5 hour parking.  In my time as councillor for the ward I have received a few emails and calls regarding parking issues in ward 6.  Mainly these have been issues with commercial vehicles and neighbour “feuds”.  The facts outlined in the report last night stated every surrounding municipality with the exception of Halton Hills has a 3 hour parking bylaw including Oakville, Burlington, Brampton & Mississauga.  As Milton grows in size comparable to these areas, we should be looking at what works for them.

I along with Councillor Rick Malboeuf asked staff that a lot of the issues regarding parking tickets can be fixed by using common sense.  Things like not ticketing at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Grey Cup and other special events where friends and families are visiting.  The worst ticket being someone whos had a few drinks and they do the responsible thing by taking a cab home or staying over and for that getting a ticket. 

There are measures in place for parking considerations as outlined in the report. 

http://www.milton.ca/en/live/parkingconsideration.asp

You can go online and get a parking consideration in a matter of seconds and in cases where you are having renovations made and cant use your driveway extra time will be considered.

I questioned staff on the number of considerations per plate (currently 18) and if they might think about increasing the number of considerations to encourage their use.  He felt that the Town of Milton is quite generous compared to other municipalities in this matter but I honestly think that if we want people to use them regularly and not be inconvenienced by running out of them during the year, we can give more considerations.

I personally think the wrong decision was made by the Community Services Standing Committee as there will be more confusion with residents and will result in an increase in parking infractions, not to mention an increase in the cost of providing the service.

But as always, I DO want to hear from you.

This decision will now come before council on March 26th to be ratified.  I encourage you if you dont want these changes made, to make your feelings known by emailing me mike@mikecluett.ca and other members of council and also by becoming a delegate at the meeting to speak your mind.

Community Fund News Update

Almost a year ago, Ward 5 Councillor Arnold Huffman had asked the Community Services Advisory Committee (CSAC) to review possible changes to the Milton Community Fund to allow for a special category to be set up specifically for Milton based service groups like the Optimist Club, Rotary Club and Royal Canadian Legion to name a few.

This option was reviewed by the CSAC members (of which both Arnold and I are council representatives for) and the report was returned to council with the recommendation that it not move forward.  Before the report from CSAC could be voted on by council, a motion to defer and send it back was moved and passed.  This allowed CSAC to review it again along with additional feedback from area service groups with the result being the same.

This means the $100,000 will be put back into the Community Fund for 2012.  This amount for the last few years had been allocated to fund the construction of the Milton Centre for the Arts and once that was completed, it was to be directed back into available funds for allocations by CSAC.  During the 2011 budget process, Arnold made the motion to have CSAC review the special allocation in the fund for service clubs and over a year later the matter has been resolved.

The 2011 Community Fund allocations this past year actually ran out as there were so many qualified applicants.  As Milton grows and if the Community Fund is to be successful we need to make sure that there is enough money in the fund for future needs.  Funding for the CF comes from the slot revenues from OLG and not from your tax bill.  With the CSAC motion approved by Milton Council, the $100,000 will be available for all members of the community through the fund.  When the 2012 guidelines have been approved by council later this month, I will post a link so people can apply if needed.

Here is a brief history of the Community Fund.

For some background information you can check out Champion coverage hereAlso, here is a report from the Milton Canadian Champion.

Service groups denied – Council votes against matching program from Milton’s Community Fund

Councillors have voted not to allocate $100,000 from Milton’s Community Fund specifically to service groups.

Without discussion on Monday night, council approved a staff report that recommended against a new matching program to help service clubs fund Milton-based projects.

Ward 5 Councillor Arnold Huffman asked staff to investigate the feasibility of the program in early 2011. At the time, he said the matching program would help fundraising initiatives for new projects and possibly increase membership levels. Huffman was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Twice, the Community Services Advisory Committee (CSAC) — the committee that reviews the community fund allocations — voted against the matching program. One of the meetings took place in late January and members of Milton Council were not permitted to attend as to not influence other CSAC members.

Close to $290,000 from the 2011 Milton Community fund was distributed to individuals and groups in town.

The 2012 program will see $350,000 distributed.

Community Services Committee Meeting June 13 2011

The next meeting of the Community Services Standing Committee is this coming Monday June 13, 2011 at Milton Town Hall beginning at 7pm.

This Committee consists of five Councillors and the Mayor. Committee members review all reports, formulate policy and make recommendations to Council on matters over which Council has authority under the Municipal Act. These matters are related to Community Services, Fire, Library, Transit and other operational programs. If you wish to be a delegation at the Community Services Committee, you must register in writing with the Clerk’s Office by 10:00 a.m. on Monday, the day of the meeting.

The following Council Members sit on the Community Services Committee:

  • Gordon Krantz, Mayor
  • Councillor Tony Lambert, Wards 1, 6, 7 & 8
  • Councillor Greg Nelson, Ward 2
  • Councillor Rick Malboeuf, Ward 4
  • Councillor Arnold Huffman, Ward 5
  • Councillor R. Di Lorenzo, Wards 7

Here is a copy of the agenda for you to review.  Some of the items to be discussed include:

If you cant make it to the meeting, as always you can watch online.  Just click on my links to the right and enjoy!

Walking Piano Steps – A good idea?

Does anyone remember the movie BIG? Tom Hanks and the famous giant piano scene?

Would you like to see those similar piano keys on the steps of the Milton Arts Centre? Councillor Huffman asked staff for a report on the viability, cost, etc of installing these piano keys on the steps of the Arts Centre. That report can be found here.

The picture here is of something similar, but not to the spec’s of the Milton Centre for the Arts.  The cost is approximately $92,000. The staff recommendation is to approve the project once there is a sponsor available to pay for it.

After speaking with some people around town, some feel it will look tacky and cheapen the look of the Arts Centre that we just spent MILLIONS of dollars on and its not even open yet and we will have to tear up the steps removing the tile and replace it with this.

Do you think this would be a draw for tourism? Would you come from out of town to see this? This installation is apparently popular overseas and this would be the first one in North America.

Feedback?

There has been a lot of feedback on the Hawthorne Villager Forum (which is administered by ward 7 Councillor Rick Di Lorenzo) and you can find the comments on that thread here.

Here are some of MY comments:

This process is backwards as far as Im concerned. We have the approximate costs for the stairs done, which is fine. Council can receive the report for information.mike@mikecluett.ca with your comments/input for Monday’s meeting.Any other comments?

Next part of the process should be feedback from the Arts Centre. Does this “fit” into the vision of the MAC or does it take away from the feel of the building. For those who havent been inside, despite the outside appearance, its really well done and elegant on the inside. If I can get in or if anyone has any pics we should show them for sure.

After feedback has been received and given an “OK” that the MAC would support something like this, THEN we go out to the business community and search for a sponsor. That way we have the approx cost of the stairs AND the thumbs up from those who will be running it.

If we cant find a sponsor or sponsors for the full amount then the project should be shelved. Im not comfortable as a CSAC member and as a councillor suggesting these sponsor(s) make an application to the community fun for the difference. I’d hate to be on CSAC and have to deny funding for someone who qualifies under the Community Fund guidelines because $X was given for the piano steps.

If the private sector cant come up with the funding for this, I think we should pass. That wont be known until we hear from that business/arts community which is the reason why council (IMO) should wait before giving the project the green light.

We can receive the report for information, consult the people involved and address any maintenance issues/safety issues etc that might be on peoples minds, then go to the business community and get the full cost.

There are more important things for council to be considering right now like the 2012 budget call reports, hospital expansion funding, building/maintaining our roads and traffic calming policies.

Feel free to post here or email me mike@mikecluett.ca

Even More Feedback on Milton Budget & Tax Levy

Continuing with some of the feedback I posted earlier last week, here is another letter to the editor of the Milton Canadian Champion in todays paper.

A re-do needed on Town budget

Dear Editor:

Milton council appears to be out of touch with the reality of today’s economy.

The country is in a recession, thousands of Canadians are unemployed, and citizens are still reeling from the introduction of the HST and hydro cost increases. And still Milton council feels increasing our property taxes at twice the rate of inflation represents good government. It doesn’t.

The Bank of Canada is projecting a 2 per cent inflation rate for 2011, which should represent the absolute limit for property tax increases this year. Town council needs to get back to work and have Town staff provide them with spending reductions that will keep the tax increases within the 2 per cent target.

These reductions should include, at a minimum, a freeze on the hiring of new employees, unfilled positions being left vacant and capital projects being reduced, as they eventually create ongoing operations and maintenance expenses. The Town should also be looking to contract out any services that it performs that can be more cost-effectively provided by the private sector.

The 1 per cent hospital tax levy should be rescinded. Ontario residents are already burdened with high Provincial taxes to support health care. The Town shouldn’t be creating a ‘stealth’ health-care tax  through our property taxes.

One of the more pleasant surprises I experienced when I moved to Milton over a decade ago was reasonable property taxes. To keep these taxes reasonable, council needs to recognize that prudent management of our tax dollars is expected of our elected members of council.

The budget for 2011 needs to be re-opened and spending reductions introduced to lower the Town portion of property taxes to a maximum 2 per cent increase.

Sean McCafferty, Milton