North Cowichan will install signage in problem areas around the Kaspa Road parking area for the trails on Mount Tzouhalem to inform motorists where they can, and can’t, park their vehicles.
It’s one of a number of strategies that the municipality has decided on to try to deal with the growing traffic and parking problems in the residential area.
At a meeting on Feb. 2, council decided to put up signs that would remind the public about the parking rules for the area, including that there is no parking within two metres of a residential driveway, and that the rules would be periodically enforced.
Don Stewart, the municipality’s director of parks and recreation, also spoke to council about a number of other solutions to the parking problem that are already underway, and some strategies that will likely help with the issue down the road.
He said staff have arranged for flagging services on weekends and statutory holidays when the weather is conducive for many people to use the trail system.
“Staff have also placed restrictions on use of the Kaspa parking lot by commercial and user groups from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends and statutory holidays,” Stewart said.
Many residents in the area of the trailhead of Mount Tzouhalem’s biking and walking trails have raised concerns with council concerning the influx of people and vehicles to their neighbourhood to use the recreational trails.
Problems include speeding vehicles through the residential neighbourhood, increased numbers of parked cars lining the streets after COVID-19 protocols limited parking in the parking lot, deer being struck by vehicles, camping and cooking on open air fires in the trail system’s parking lot and loud noises at all times of the day and night.
Stewart also told council that plans for 2021 include the development of a new parking lot by the Kingsview/Nevilane roundabout, and expanding the nearby parking lot on Nevilane Drive.
He said plans for links to the Tzouhalem trail system from other areas, which have their own parking lots, is also underway.
The cost and effectiveness of placing signage in the problem areas were discussed at the meeting on Feb. 2.
Martin Drakeley, North Cowichan’s manager of fire and bylaw services, said the issues around parking in the municipality are not restricted to the Kaspa parking area, but are spread across North Cowichan.
“We have recently lost 30 per cent of our enforcement resources in dealing with parking and other issues,” he said.
“Our bylaw staff currently work on 600 to 800 calls per year and now that we are down to two and half bylaw staff, it would be hard to find resources to deal with increased enforcement in the Kaspa Road area.”
Mayor Al Siebring said he understands the issue around limited resources and he worries that if council votes to put more resources in that area, it could mean less in other parts of North Cowichan.
“I understand that there may be some funding still available through the COVID-19 funding we received from the province that we could use,” he said.
“After all, the issue of increased usage of parking is directly related to COVID-19.”
North Cowichan received $4.4 million from the province late last year from the COVID-19 Safe Restart Program for local governments to help offset their costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CAO Ted Swabey said if council wants to use some of that funding to provide more enforcement opportunities, this would be the perfect time.
Asked if it was a suitable option, Swabey said if more enforcement presence in the area at key times would show the residents that North Cowichan is trying to address their concerns, it would be worth pursuing.