Tickets didn’t work. Signs didn’t work. So the road will be closed.
The City of Kingston is launching a crackdown on commuters who’ve been using a popular inner-city park as a free parking lot.
Officials say the ring road in City Park continues to be misused and damaged by drivers who are using it as a day-long parking space.
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The park, near Kingston General Hospital and Queen’s University, is free for those who are using amenities including a children’s playground and winter skating rink.
It’s also available as an overflow option for patients of the nearby Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario.
But city officials say commuters are also using it for free parking from early in the morning until the evening.
Both the hospital and the university employ thousands of people and surface parking is often tough to find during the daytime hours for staff and visitors.
“Unfortunately, the free parking option in the park has been misused by commuter parkers. At times, staff have counted close to 150 cars along the ring road,” according to a report by Sheila Kidd, the city’s commissioner of transportation and public works.
She says the parking problem is hard to enforce because bylaw enforcement officers can’t differentiate between park users and commuters, especially during the busy summer months.
As well, Kidd says it’s difficult to protect parking spaces for those who want to visit the park throughout the day.
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Given those factors, and Kingston’s recent declaration of a climate emergency, the city’s solution is to block access to the ring road, which runs between Barrie Street and West Street.
“Staff is planning to close access to the ring road within the park as of Nov. 15, 2019. After that time, motor vehicles will be restricted from entering the park.”
Kidd says barricades, signs and a public education campaign will be part of the new measures.
Officials point out the unnamed ring road will still be accessible to cyclists, pedestrians and emergency vehicles and for special events in the park.
Park users will also be banned from using the ring road and will have to find space in nearby lots or on the street.
“There are numerous on-street spaces in close proximity to the park that will serve park users but restrict all-day parkers,” according to Kidd’s information report to the Nov. 5 council meeting.
Once the access road is closed to motorized vehicles, public works crews will be doing repairs to the gravel road.
In addition, staff will be exploring options to add additional on-street parking on Bagot Street and Court Street, which cut through the popular park.
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Kidd hopes that permanently closing the park’s ring road will encourage more commuters to use Kingston Transit.
“Eliminating the ability for commuters to park their vehicles for extended periods of time for free in City Park provides an opportunity to move these commuters to Kingston Transit.”