Cornwall rolling back all-out free parking

In this August 2019, file photo, a sign on Pitt Street in Cornwall, Ont. directs drivers to the nearest pay machine for parking. The city is rolling back its around-the-clock free parking and will have a two-hour limit through mid-September as stores start to reopen during the coronavirus outbreak. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – Some free parking will continue this summer in the City of Cornwall but it will be on a limited basis.

Looking to strike a compromise to help Cornwall businesses while not hitting taxpayers with an unneeded expense, council agreed Monday night to free two-hour parking through the middle of September.

Since the pandemic began, parking has been free around-the-clock, because the city felt it wasn’t fair to charge drivers when the stores they were parking outside weren’t open.

Planning General Manager Mark Boileau says it will strike a balance while also creating customer turnover in the downtown areas, something the business improvement areas have wanted.

Asked by Coun. Claude McIntosh whether monthly pass holders have asked for refunds, Boileau said he had “not heard anything” from people seeking compensation.

Boileau explained that all-out free parking would affect the $50,000 in revenue the city receives from pay-and-display and parking meters – about one per cent of the yearly tax levy.

Both Coun. Todd Bennett and Mayor Bernadette Clement called the plan a good compromise.

The city will having a larger review of its parking system in the fall.