Mike Zettel / Port Colborne Leader
PORT COLBORNE – Citing concerns about snow clearing and fire truck access, council voted Monday to prevent people to prohibit parking on a narrow street by the former Port Colborne hospital.
Parking on the street increased in recent years after the Niagara Health System started charging for parking in the lot at the urgent care centre.
As soon as signs are erected, it will no longer be permitted to park on the west side of Steele Street from 56 meters south of Sugarloaf Street to the south end of Steele.
This portion of the road is only 7.5 meters wide – not enough room to two opposing lanes of traffic and parking.
Staff have expressed concern that they are not able to plow the road safely when cars are parked on the street and that the last storm resulted in someone nearly being hit as they were getting into their vehicle.
The fire department also noted that in its last response to Northland Pointe, the fire prevention officer could barely pass between a parked car and a snow bank on the street.
Coun. John Mayne expressed concern that banning parking on Steele Street will simply shift the problem onto other streets. He noted council had to implement a permit system on other nearby streets to prevent hospital patrons and employees from crowding out residents' parking spots.
"The Niagara Health System has kind of created this problem, and we let them get away with it," he said.
Coun. Dave Elliott agreed but said it's not the city's responsibility to provide parking for the NHS.
"If you've got to pay to park at the NHS, you've got to pay to park at the NHS," he said.
Coun. Ron Bodner interjected on behalf of the NHS, pointing out the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care stipulated that in order to receive provincial funding hospitals had to maximize revenue flows, mainly they had to implement paid parking.
Coun. Angie Desmarais said paying to park at the NHS is a real burden for some people.
"We need to stop and think of those people who need those services, are citizens of Port Colborne and can't afford to pay for parking," she said.