Those illegally parking around Snyder’s Flats in Bloomingdale will soon be subjected to fines, as Woolwich council this week cleared the way for a private security company to issue tickets.
Councillors meeting by video conference June 16 agreed to a request from an adjacent landowner, Rockway Holdings Ltd., to grant ticketing power to Jaide Security Services. The property is already being patrolled for trespassers.
A formal bylaw to appoint the security services as ticket-issuers is expected to be passed June 23, with a starting fine of $20.
Rockway Holdings has become increasingly concerned about trespassers on its properties at 1236 and 1277 Snyder’s Flats Rd., one of which is home to a small gravel pit operation. Even when the conservation area and the road itself were closed due to the coronavirus situation, people continued to flock to the site, often parking on private property. The company has since fenced off a number of spots where visitors were parking.
“Visitors are many, but parking spots are few,” said township clerk Val Hummel Tuesday night.
Where Rockway was looking for the power to write tickets on its property, Hummel noted that simply allowing that might just push the problem up the road to the Bloomingdale Mennonite Church and the community centre. To avoid that scenario, the bylaw will give the security firm the right to ticket on the whole length of Snyder’s Flats Road.
Coun. Patrick Merlihan suggested people be allowed to park at the community centre, asking if that would be a problem.
Not today, Hummel noted, as the centre is not in use, but if rentals resume in a few weeks, then there will be a problem. The township wants to avoid people getting in the habit of parking there, she said.
Ward 3 Coun. Larry Shantz, who lives in Bloomingdale, added that people parking in that lot are likely to simply let their dogs run nearby rather than take the long hike to the conservation area, resulting in more mess in the community park and sports fields.
The likelihood of that scenario was part of a June 9 inspection of the area, Hummel noted in a report to councillors.
During that daytime visit to the site, staff took note of a car parked in the Bloomingdale Community Centre parking lot with two people seen playing on the sports field with their dog. Two cars were parked in the church lot, with occupants of one vehicle clearly about to embark on a trail hike. And 53 cars parked in the area closest to the GRCA lands, most in areas with clearly posted parking restriction signage. A large emergency vehicle may have had difficulty getting through the last 100 metres closest to the GRCA lands, she noted.
The township plans to increase signage in conjunction with the ticketing changes, indicating more clearly where visitors can and can’t park.
There are also issues with people violating other posted rules at the conservation area.
“Signage indicates dogs are to be kept leashed, but the area has a history of being used as an unofficial dog park. People also swim and camp on the lands. These uses are not permitted by the GRCA.”
Coun. Murray Martin suggested looking at shutting down the entire conservation area, especially in light of last weekend’s near-drowning incident that left a five-year-old girl in critical condition.
For its part, Rockway is proposing the permanent closure of the Snyder’s Flats Road west of the church, noting it’s interested in a land swap with the GRCA that would include a new driveway into the conservation area north of the current location. Under that plan, Rockway would buy the closed portion of Snyder’s Flats Road from the township, effectively joining its properties on either side of the roadway.
Hummel noted a long-term solution to the parking issue is in the hands of the GRCA.