Overnight winter parking pilot project comes before Kingston Council again

Kingston’s overnight winter parking pilot project aims to allow residents to park on the streets during periods of “fair weather” through December and March, while using an alert system to notify residents when such parking is prohibited due to the forecast — to avoid roadways ending up like the one pictured here. Kingstonist file photo from 2018.

If the “weather-based” winter parking pilot project gets approval next week to continue, Kingston motorists will be allowed to park on City streets overnight during December 2023 and March 2024, as long as the weather is fair.

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, Kingston City Council will receive a report from Brad Joyce, Commissioner of Infrastructure, Transportation & Emergency Services, asking that “A Bylaw to Amend Bylaw Number 2010, A Bylaw to Regulate Parking, as Amended” be presented to Council for all three readings and adopted. 

Adopting this amendment would allow the City to extend a pilot program which allows for a “weather-based” winter parking ban during the “shoulder seasons” of winter when snow removal isn’t needed as much.

Overnight parking restrictions are a key component of planning and managing winter maintenance operations in the urban area of Kingston, the report notes. If approved, the request would allow the City to continue to gather information to “better understand the effectiveness of a weather-based ban during the shoulder seasons of December and March,” the report notes, while also providing “an additional season of winter operations and enforcement with increased awareness of the approach amongst residents.” The shoulder season pilot program was to expire on March 31, 2023, and at that time staff indicated that a report would be presented to Council in the fourth quarter of 2023 to recommend next steps, based on the information gathered by the pilot to date. 

Before last year, on-street parking was prohibited any time between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. from December 1 to March 31 on most streets throughout the city. The pilot program, introduced in March 2022, maintained the overnight prohibition for January and February when snowfall is typically heavier, but shifted to a weather-based system for December and March. 

Under the pilot approach, the Director of Public Works was authorized to enact a “Declared Weather Event,” which was declared in advance of forecasted precipitation of five or more centimetres of snow, in advance of forecasted freezing rain, or at any other time as deemed necessary to perform winter maintenance operations.

While the ban was in effect, on-street parking was prohibited from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. citywide and 12 a.m. to 7 a.m. on the streets that surround Kingston General Hospital, which include George Street from Stuart Street to King Street West, O’Kill Street from Barrie Street to George Street, and Stuart Street from Barrie Street to University Avenue.

The streets around Kingston General Hospital (KGH) and the Kingston Cancer Centre are subject to specific overnight winter parking hours during the “shoulder seasons” of winter. Graphic via Google Maps.

This approach, the report says, recognized that there are typically fewer winter events during these months and was intended to allow the overnight parking prohibition to only be in place when it was required for winter maintenance. The restrictions are intended to provide Public Works with a six-hour window to operate on unobstructed roadways, to allow for more efficient overnight winter snow plowing and removal operations and to meet Council’s approved service levels as set out in the City’s Winter Maintenance Policy and requirements under provincial Regulation 239/02 Minimum Maintenance Standards

During the first season of the pilot project, when an overnight parking ban was declared, the City notified residents, typically by 4 p.m. or earlier, through social media, by notifications via City news releases, on the “Winter Parking” page of the City’s website, and on electronic signboards on high-traffic roads. According to the report, the overnight parking ban was put in place 18 nights in March 2022, 21 nights in December 2022, and 15 nights in March 2023. These three months provided an opportunity for staff to test run the pilot and evolve their approaches to encourage compliance. 

Accordingly, City staff “shifted from a ‘light-handed’ approach that focused on public education and awareness during March 2022 and early December 2022, to an increased enforcement approach in late December 2022 and early March 2023, including the issuance of fines and towing.” However, the report also points out that late December 2022 and early March 2023 each had a significant winter weather event where extended overnight parking bans were required, and this affected the adequacy of the data for analysis.

The report proposes to temporarily amend Bylaw Number 2010-128, A Bylaw to Regulate Parking, to reflect the proposed extension of the pilot, and requests that the amending bylaw be presented for all three readings so that a public communication plan can be initiated as soon as possible before the proposed December 1, 2023 implementation date.

Members of the public can find information about the Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, City Council meeting on the City of Kingston’s City Council meetings web page. The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., can be attended in person in Council Chambers in City Hall (216 Ontario Street), or watched remotely on the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.

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