Note: This is a response to a ‘Behest of the West’ column which can be found here: http://www.westerlynews.ca/opinion/386709471.html
Dianne St. Jacques
Mayor of Ucluelet
I would like to respond to your column in the July 6 edition of the Westerly News, where you shared your thoughts on parking in Ucluelet.
I was unable to be in attendance at the June 28 meeting where the mobile vendor discussion took place but I 100 per cent agree with Ucluelet Council’s decision. As our community’s municipal council we have many responsibilities—one of which is the safety of our people.
You are correct in stating that there has been replacement of angle parking, where vehicles back out directly onto our streets, by parallel parking. This has been done, and will continue to be done, to protect families trying to maneuver on our roads and sidewalks. In the old days, when the angle parking was put in place, the traffic on our streets was much lighter than it is today—so it was considered okay to back straight out into oncoming traffic. However, we live in a different world now, with many more vehicles going at faster speeds.
The example you gave of Bay Street parallel parking is a good one. When that area was beautified and slightly reconfigured, the vehicles could no longer pull in to the lot as far as they used to. Vehicles that continued to angle park, after the changes were made, ended up blocking the ‘Stop’ sign and also backing directly into the folks who were in line at the ‘Stop’ sign. We had no choice but to put safety first and change to parallel parking.
Your other example of parking at Howler’s, is also a real safety concern. At the Howler’s location, vehicles not only back into oncoming traffic but they also back out and cross incoming traffic in order to head out of town. There is also a crosswalk at that site and an intersection with a lot of traffic pulling off Peninsula and also pulling on to Peninsula, our main thoroughfare. It is also a very popular spot for cars to either stop, or pull over, to take photos of our beautiful sign. There is also a lot of vehicle activity from the neighbouring businesses. It is a very busy area!
Howler’s has done such an amazing job of revitalizing their building, it’s beautiful and a business to be proud of. The owners have also provided a great parking lot at the back of their building to allow their patrons to park in. The access to the new Howler’s parking lot is exactly where the mobile vendor has set up his building—it is simply not a good spot. There is also a picnic table and seating in that area. Ucluelet council is correct in their discussion and decision—there is too much activity to keep people safe.
The mobile vendor is a lovely and attractive building. It is unfortunate that it was put in place without having a conversation with the village planner—everyone could have worked together to do their best to find a great location that would work for everyone. Unfortunately, we weren’t included until after the building had been constructed, transported and set up. We are then put in the position of having to make what we feel is the best decision for our community as a whole.
As to the signage, or lack of, for the parking lot on Cedar Street, you bring up a very good point. Thank you and we will provide better signage.
The 15-minute parking signs at the Chamber Info Centre parking lot were put up at the request of the Chamber in order to allow visitors to come in and get the information they need about our beautiful community. We will continue to work with the Chamber to monitor how the parking lot is working for them and for our visitors.
There is absolutely no plan by council to put parallel parking all over the village, but we will put it in place to keep people safe wherever necessary.
The people on your council and at your village office don’t set out to be the bad guys—we all live and work here and none of us enjoy being put in the position of denying a request. However, at the end of the day, we have to make the best decision for the whole community, that is our responsibility. It doesn’t always make us popular, but that’s our job and we take it seriously.
A reminder to everyone that our Official Community Plan is coming up in the fall and we look forward to parking being one of the many topics of discussion.
Thanks [Westerly News editor] Andrew Bailey for your thoughts and comments, they are always welcome. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.
Dianne St. Jacques is the mayor of Ucluelet. We thank her for responding to the Westerly’s ‘Behest of the West’ column.