by John Barclay
In the summer of 2017 the Old Town Kemptville BIA Board of Management surveyed several downtown businesses in anticipation of the Municipality’s 2018 budget deliberations. By far the most important request from these BIA members was to dramatically improve parking downtown. This continues to be a common complaint among downtown merchants and customers alike.
Luckily a lot of thinking has been done on this issue. In 2010 The Municipality conducted a Downtown Kemptville Commercial Area Parking Study and then two years later a Strategic Action Plan was written based on that study. It identified a number of recommendations to Manage Demand, Improve Supply and Promote Alternatives. The BIA continues to advocate for those recommendations to be implemented.
Recently, additional on-street parking on Reuben Crescent has been created and soon larger Free Parking directional signage will be installed on Prescott pointing to parking lots beside the Library and Riverside Park. The BIA has noted that in light of changes made to traffic patterns due to the closing of the North Grenville District High School and the Kemptville Public School, more on-street parking could be added as well.
One of the “long term” (2020 and beyond) recommendations contained in the 2012 Strategic Action Plan is “That the Municipality acquires another large public lot in the downtown commercial area”. A request to identify and create additional off-street parking to meet current and future needs was included in the BIA’s deputation to Council during their budget deliberations in the fall of last year.
Our Council is to be applauded for soliciting Community Requests and for instituting consultations with Councilors as part of their budget deliberations. More citizens and members community groups should take advantage of this opportunity in the future. Here is an extract of the November 14th, 2017 Minutes of Special Committee of the Whole meeting that dealt with Community Requests:
Downtown Parking Improvements
– Councillor Bertram advised that he had met with the BIA to improve supply, manage the demand and provide alternatives for parking in the downtown. Karen Dunlop noted that she had met with BIA to discuss limited parking for 3 hours. There are some 1 hour signs that will be removed. The sidewalk budget has been increased from $9000 to $14000 in 2018. We will look at a priority listing of sidewalks in 2018. Phil Gerrard advised that leasing the former high school site is problematic as we do not know who the new owners will be. No cost has been identified. Our parking study will be reviewed in 2018.
If we encourage people to shop, dine and explore Downtown Kemptville, we need to provide them convenient parking. The BIA will continue to work with the Municipality on its short term plans to improve the current parking situation and on its long term plans to create additional off-street parking downtown.