Council to consider east end sidewalk parking exemption

A pickup truck on Bluffwood Avenue encroaches the sidewalk while another vehicle parked parallel to the roadway provides minimal access for pedestrians. Photo via City of Kingston

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, members of Kingston City Council will consider options related to sidewalk parking on several streets in Kingston’s east end. This comes after years of back-and-forth communications between the City and some residents of the Greenwood Park neighbourhood who are unable to park in their own driveway without obstructing the sidewalk.

Current City of Kingston by-laws forbid any obstructions on sidewalks that would “impede the free movement of pedestrians on that sidewalk”. In August 2019, Council voted to implement a by-law exemption for Greenwood Park for up to 24 months, allowing staff to investigate a permanent solution to the issue. The exemption allowed property owners on Bluffwood, Cottonwood, and Cyprus Streets to partially obstruct the sidewalk, while still providing a safe off-road passage for pedestrians. Last December, Council approved an extension to the by-law exemption for the 2021-2022 winter control season, while staff continued to assess the situation. 

A staff report circulating ahead of tomorrow night’s council meeting outlines two different options that members could take: the discontinuation of the sidewalk parking exemption, or a permanent by-law exemption for the 54 residential units included in the initial program. Should Council opt for the permanent by-law option, residents must ensure that the vehicles are parked as close to their garages as possible in order to provide minimal sidewalk encroachment. 

The permanent exemption option is intended to accommodate single vehicles only. The report states that if the City cannot properly maintain the sidewalk due to a vehicle’s encroachment, “the owner of the property on which the driveway is located will be responsible for maintaining the affected portion of the sidewalk clear of all snow and ice as soon as practicable, or as otherwise prescribed by the City, and in accordance with the City’s standards.” 

As per the by-law governing the placement of garages on residential properties, “no garage shall be located closer than 4.8 metres to the street line.” The “street line” refers to the line separating the private lot from the municipal road allowance. The report notes that the exemption was first introduced because a number of units within the neighbourhood have driveways that are shorter than the 4.8-meter requirement, due to the fact that the street line “either directly abuts or is in very close proximity to the inner edge of the sidewalk.” 

However, the report indicates that the minimum requirement of one parking space per unit is maintained at these properties by parking a vehicle in the garage. “The allowance for a driveway to be as short as 4.8 metres in length between a garage and a sidewalk does not, therefore, constitute a deficiency in terms of meeting the existing zoning by-law’s minimum parking requirement.” 

Given that residents may opt to use their garages for purposes other than parking, owners of these properties may be left without adequate room to park their vehicles. The permeant by-law exemption would create the necessary space for these residents while maintaining a minimal sidewalk encroachment, providing pedestrians with a safe offroad passage. In terms of violations during the exemption period, the report indicates that a “general level of compliance” was observed by staff. 

The item will come before Council on Tuesday night. Should members approve the permanent by-law option, changes are expected to be in place in time for the winter enforcement season. 

One thought on “Council to consider east end sidewalk parking exemption

  • Question: would the proposed exemption leave enough sidewalk passage for pedestrians using walkers or wheelchairs?

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