By Cole Parkinson
The ongoing bus parking issue will continue to hamper the Town of Vauxhall as town council has yet to find a suitable solution that will be fair for everyone involved.
After last discussing the matter in October, the matter was once again brought forward during their regular meeting in late December.
One thing brought to the councillor’s attention was the bylaw does allow for buses to be parked in Vauxhall during the day on the truck route, on 1st Avenue South, parts of 1st Street and 6th Street which allows out of town drivers the ability to park in between their runs.
“That seems fair for out of town drivers that need to do shopping in town. That seems perfectly reasonable,” said Coun. Kim Cawley.
With the available parking for out of town drivers, it leaves them close to any nearby stores they wish to purchase goods from.
“It’s never more than a two block walk to anywhere in town based on that,” said Richard Phillips, deputy mayor of the Town of Vauxhall.
One issue that has continued to stump the council is the matter of allowing Vauxhall bus drivers to park their buses overnight.
One thought that council had was to have bus owner neighbours vote in favour of whether or not they were okay with having a school bus next door.
“If it were to move to steps to let them park on their residence would it have to go to neighbours to see if they were okay with that? That would be something I would suggest because that would be the biggest concern. The running time, the smell, the noise and can you put a limit on how long their bus can idle?” said Coun. Cawley.
While council liked the idea in principle, the fact some buses would be given the go ahead to park while others would be shut down would lead to problems.
They also weren’t hugely in favour of having the pressure put on the neighbours to say yes or no.
“There are some bus drivers who live along 7th Avenue and they could put a bus in their yard and you would never know it was there,” said Coun. Cawley. “We can’t make exceptions. We have two options — we scrap it and don’t worry about it or see if it’s something we can deal with.”
Another problem lies within the many different types of buses that the school boards in the area use.
“The other concern is do you accept all buses or short buses or long buses?” said Mindy Dunphy, office manager for the Town of Vauxhall.
The matter was brought up once again during the council’s regular meeting on Jan. 16 and overnight parking was once again discussed. Another fold to the issue was whether or not offloaded semi trucks would be in the same category as large buses.
“We probably want to treat both the same, don’t we? We have large commercial vehicles, it really doesn’t matter if it’s used to carry people or trucking,” said Phillips.
“An offloaded semi truck would probably fall under the same length restrictions as a school bus,” added Cris Burns, CAO for the Town of Vauxhall.
Coun. Phillips brought up a scenario where bus owners who owned large lots would be able to park their buses on their property where it wouldn’t bother any nearby residents.
While it may be a one-off situation, he was aware of at least one person who would fit the bill.
“Sometimes it’s nice to see the term ‘common sense’ apply. If somebody has a very large lot so that their commercial vehicle can be parked a long ways from the nearest resident and a long ways from the roads so it’s not obstructing sight lines, then what is the hurt? In that case I would suggest that the bylaw could say something like ‘it can be parked on private property provided it is, pick a distance, from the road and pick a distance it is from the nearest residence’,” said Phillips. “There are probably a few exceptions but I certainly can think of one right now where there is a bus driver that has a very large lot and I’m guessing the bus parked on that lot would not bother anybody.”
Council seemed to agree with the thought of adding an amendment to the bylaw allowing bus owners with large lots a certain distance away from neighbours as well as town roads.
“That was my big hangup with this in the first place. There are some spots where they could put the bus back there and you would never know it was there,” said Cawley.
Council also agreed they would allow resident’s to park commercial vehicles on their property but the vehicle had to be used by the property owner.
They also decided on 20 metres from the road and 30 metres from the nearest residence.