The owners of two family-run businesses in Prince Edward County say the municipality’s new seasonal parking bylaw has forced them to close their restaurants.
The Chretien family owns the Lake on the Mountain Resort, a brewery and two restaurants, The Inn and The Miller House.
Gilles Chretien says the two restaurants will be closing because parking along a busy stretch of Highway 33 outside of their establishments is now off-limits.
“We’re not left any alternative. Because how do you operate a business without any parking?” Gilles said.
The owners of the Prince Edward County resort have been bucking the seasonal parking bylaw since it was implemented. It was first put in place to control parking around provincial parks overwhelmed with tourists during the pandemic.
The owners of the resort say the section outside their business was added in a last-minute amendment to the bylaw by councillor Coun. Stewart Bailey, without any public consultation. Bailey declined to comment for this story, and referred Global News to Mayor Steve Ferguson.
Ferguson maintains the change was always about safety.
“It is regrettable that the business owners have decided to take this drastic step,” he said.
“Staff are willing to meet once again with the business owners to explore possible short-term solutions that help address their parking concerns this season while also improving road safety in this area, which was the direction of council.”
But with parking outside the business coming with a $400 fine, the owners say keeping the restaurants open is unsustainable, especially after the proceeding year.
“We started this business 30 years ago in a very business friendly environment. This is not where we find ourselves today,” said Danielle Chretien, Gilles’ daughter.
“After the hardships businesses have endured during the pandemic, it is hard to believe a council would make such a impactful decision with no consultation whatsoever,” she continued.
Gilles says while they have some parking in the resort lot, it’s not enough to accommodate the restaurant’s clientele, especially elderly diners who have to find parking further away from the resort.
Chretien says that as things stand now, keeping the restaurants open would make his customers less safe. People will have to park “a mile down the road” and walk back to the resort. “The shoulders aren’t well maintained so they walk on the road. If that isn’t unsafe, what is?” Gilles said.
Ferguson said that council did take action to revisit the bylaw at a July council meeting at the request of certain residents. Yet the motion to revisit did not “garner the necessary votes required under the municipality’s procedural bylaw.”
He added that the municipality will undertake a full review of the seasonal no parking zones after the high tourism season is over to explore changes for 2022.
Otherwise, Ferguson said that the decision to close the restaurants was concerning, especially in light of the potential jobs lost.
“We will look to support the employees and connect them with resources in the community to help them find other employment should that be their wish,” he said.
A date for the closures has yet to be set.