Editorial: Need for safer parking now

When the shopping plaza in Iroquois was renovated in 2009, there was discussion among the council of the day regarding plaza parking. This led to a traffic study of parking in both Iroquois and Morrisburg plazas. The findings were clear. The parking spaces directly in front of the stores in both plazas were high risk. After debate, and feedback from the public including local businesses in the plazas, the idea to remove the parking spaces was shelved.

Now it is 2017 and as shown on the front page of this paper, we have the latest in a series of accidents where vehicles have damaged storefronts in the plaza. Thankfully no one was seriously injured in Monday’s accident. And, any injuries in the previous accidents have been relatively minor. That luck will run out and someone or some group of people are going to be injured, or worse.

There are two different solutions to the problem. Neither will make people happy.

South Dundas could install bollards, or other large barriers, to prevent vehicles from entering pedestrian sidewalks. Or, they could remove the parking from in front of the stores altogether and have shoppers park in the lot across the street from the stores. Both have positive and negative implications.

Large barriers are unsightly. They do not help with the image of a shopping area. But they will keep pedestrians safe.

Removing the parking from in front of the stores would free up space for more streetscaping, but it would lower the parking capacity of the two plazas. Pedestrians would have to cross the street, while those who use the plaza who are mobility challenged would struggle.

Ultimately the municipality has to decide on some change because we are all responsible if there is a serious accident.

With the sidewalks, parking and canopy areas of both plazas owned by South Dundas, municipal tax dollars and insurance policies will be on the hook for damages. In addition, it is not fair for local businesses to have to use their insurance to repair needless vehicle damage to their property.

Neither solution is perfect but both have safety in mind.

To do nothing risks a far more serious accident, where we may not be so lucky as to just have some broken glass and a damaged vehicle.