By Mike Williscraft
The fact things could have been worse than the loss of seven on-street parking spots in downtown Smithville doesn’t make the president of West Lincoln Chamber of Commerce feel any better.
President Ivan Carruthers, who fought having Niagara Region remove the spots along Griffin Street, said he was never informed as to when the Region would debate or pass the measure and was not notified it was passed.
“I cannot believe that our Council let this pass without some serious consideration for the impact it will have on our downtown. To my knowledge there was very little if any discussion. We fought them on taking away all the parking on West Street and St. Catharine Street and putting in bike lanes,” said Carruthers, adding he does not oppose bike lanes but is concerned about the viability of businesses.
Carruthers agreed with Patio Plus & The Pool Place owner, Susan McKeen who said the loss of spaces will cause hardship.
“It will not be easy for them to carry pool chemicals and other items across the street, and that is if they can get a spot as that lot is often full,” she said.
“Council will need to provide more off-street parking in the immediate future if they want to attract business to our Town,” said Carruthers.
Chair of West Lincoln’s Public Works and Recreation Services Committee, Coun. Dave Bylsma, said he was not informed Niagara Region had approved the parking spot reduction.
“I guess they call this progress and our views aren’t worth a comment,” said Bylsma.
McKeen was also upset the project will blanket her store front right through the heart of her busiest season.
For Carruthers, a big part of his concern is avoiding the core becoming like Beamsvile’s with extensive truck traffic issues.
“Traffic on Hwy. 20 has increased dramatically in the last five years. With that comes the increase in trucks. Communities grow but our planning for roads and other systems fall by the wayside,” he said.
Mayor Doug Joyner said Wednesday afternoon he understood 3-5 spots were to be restored.
Jim Edwards of the Guitar Loft was of the same understanding.
“I think it’s a step backwards and another blow to the historical centre of Smithville,” said
Bylsma, who set up a conference call among township and regional officials to get accurate information together.
“Losing Murgatroyd Foodland and now this parking is very concerning.”