By Stu Salkeld The Stettler Independent
A Main Street businessman fed up with a lack of parking for his customers asked Stettler town council to consider a parking bylaw and fines for violators.
Danny Missikewitz, owner and operator of Party Maxx, appeared in person before council at their Oct. 3 meeting to discuss the problems his business has with parking space on Main Street, and what he thought would help.
Missikewitz started by saying he wanted to open his own business in a self-sufficient community like Stettler, not a bedroom community like Lacombe. He said his retail business needs as much parking as possible, and parking bylaws, which include a time limit and tickets for violators, are common.
Missikewitz pointed out his business is located on a corner with a yellow curb, plus a fire hydrant, with a long yellow curb in front, limiting his available slots. He said side street parking is available but has become an issue because other businesses, Missikewitz said, use that parking too, including their staff.
He said he strongly felt the town council should consider introducing a parking bylaw which acts as something the town can fall back on if there is a problem. Councilor Darcy Bachman asked if Missikewitz would like to see a time limit on Main Street parking. The businessman said “Yes.”
Bachman said a lack of parking downtown is good to hear in a way, because it means downtown is busy, “But I still sympathize with your problem.”
Councilor Will Brown agreed with Missikewitz, as Brown also owns a Main Street business and also has parking problems affecting his business. “I definitely think it deserves further research,” said Brown.
Councilor Malcolm Fischer said he preferred a diplomatic approach, including talking to neighbours about parking problems.
Missikewitz said he spoke to one neighbour about the issue and within 24 hours the problem returned, which suggests talking to neighbours is a waste of time.
Mayor Dick Richards balked at the idea of a parking bylaw, time limits and tickets. “I feel your pain,” said Richards, who noted he also is a Main Street businessman. “We never have parking for our customers.”
Richards said a parking bylaw would have to include enforcement, including paid staff and a system for processing tickets.
It was compared to what the town pays for animal control service, including 19 days of work a month and a budget that could approach $120,000. It was suggested a parking bylaw department could cost double that. “You have to weigh the pros and cons,” said Richards.
Councilor Al Campbell noted the town tried a parking bylaw about 40 years ago and resulted in a lot of nastiness directed at the town staff who handled the tickets.
Mayor Richards pondered whether the community at large wants to see timed parking and tickets on Main Street. “I would hazard to say no,” said Richards.
Richards also asked Missikewitz if he had spoken to other businessowners downtown to see how they feel. Missikewitz said no.
Richards said to bring in such a bylaw would require a lot of support from the downtown businesses, but also pointed out it’s not just the business owners who decide; the community at large should also get a say in a decision like this one.
Councilor Campbell suggested taking the issue to the Stettler Board of Trade, and councilor Sean Nolls agreed.