With the new parking lots behind St. Mary’s Church available for motorists to use, Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig is reminding the public not to park on Victoria Avenue in front of the church.
He noted Monday evening that council amended the traffic bylaw last month to do away with parking on the street there (with the exception of a few spaces on the east side of the street, in front of the Valley Diabetes Education Centre, and on Sinclair Street), but the town is having issues with people parking in that area.
“The purpose of the [biomass roads] project was to get all of the parked cars off the street because, through consultation with the trucking association and the increase on the volume of traffic that is going to be going to the biomass, we felt there were some major safety concerns,” he explained.
“Part of the whole impetus for this project was to make it a safer area,” he stressed.
“The general idea is to get all of the [parking] from Portage, Victoria, and Nelson off the street, and to get the parking in front of the Catholic church off the street,” McCaig later added, noting that, to that end, AbitibiBowater paid for the public parking lot now located behind the church.
McCaig noted the new parking lot is a safe area, and accessible for people with mobility issues. Motorists can pull up to a drive-through area by the church, drop off their passenger at the door, and then continue to the parking lot to park their vehicle.
“What’s been created is a safe zone for parking, and ample parking related to those facilities,” he added.
However, during a couple of recent funerals, McCaig said people were parking on the street in “well-posted, no-parking zones” when the rear parking lots were virtually empty.
In these cases, he instructed the bylaw department to give out warnings, indicating that future violations would result in tickets.
“We would ask everybody to respect the fact it has been designated as a no-parking area. Safe parking has been provided in the rear of St. Mary’s Church,” stressed McCaig.
“We ask everybody to utilize that. It’s a big, brand new, beautiful parking lot.
“It’s paved, it’s lit, it’s secure, and there’s easy access to the rear of the new wing of the Catholic church.”
Also Monday night, council received a letter from Timea Fleury regarding traffic concerns at the intersection of Scott Street and Central Avenue.
“I am writing this letter in regards to a safety issue raised by some of the greater than 300 mill employees that cross from the parking lot to the paper mill at the Scott Street and Central Avenue intersection,” she wrote.
“The issue is the confusing and hazardous situation of combining an advanced green, for the westbound traffic on Scott Street, with a walk signal for the pedestrians.
“The advanced green belongs to the southbound traffic on Central Avenue so that they don’t sit at the intersection, waiting for oncoming traffic, in order to turn left,” she noted.
Council referred the letter to the Traffic Safety Committee for its recommendation.
McCaig said the matter will have to be examined closely, and that mill administration should be contacted for input.
He recalled the same issue was discussed in the past, when he was working with the Fort Frances Power Corp. and sitting on a traffic safety committee.
At that time, there was “thorough consultations about what was desired for a safe crossing for mill employees,” and that if the matter is revisited, the town should contact mill manager John Harrison.