Smiths Falls resident Patricia Headlam made an impassioned plea to town councillors at a Jan. 15 meeting to keep angle parking on Beckwith Street, on the grounds that it is an important part of the town’s heritage.
Accompanied by a group of supporters, Headlam also presented Mayor Shawn Pankow with a petition bearing more than 400 signatures and comments in favour of retaining the existing angle parking.
Headlam said that her victory in a long-ago go kart race made her ideal for the role of spokesperson. “I won the Powderpuff Derby on that very street in 1958,” she said.
The option to switch from angle to parallel parking on Beckwith Street was suggested in a recent engineering consultant’s report to council. Beckwith Street is to be reconstructed in order to replace the aging infrastructure below ground. At the same time, said consultants from the Parsons engineering firm in a presentation to council Dec. 18, the project would provide an opportunity to change or modernize the streetscape, possibly be widening sidewalks and adding bicycle lanes. This is something the street’s unusual width could accommodate, especially with the introduction of parallel rather than angle parking. As well, said company vice-president Ron Clarke, studies have shown that parallel parking is safer for both vehicles and pedestrians.
“We feel as a group that there is no need to change the parking,” argued Headlam at the Jan. 15 meeting.
Headlam said angle parking makes it easier for people using walkers to get out of their vehicles when there are snowbanks. She also suggested there would be an added cost to keep larger sidewalks and bicycle paths clear of snow.
Referring to plans to hold an additional public meeting on the Beckwith Street project on Feb. 7, Headlam asked, “Will the citizens of Smiths Falls have a voice? We need to have input.”
Pankow said the contents of the petition would be shared with all members of council.
“We certainly want to hear from you and everybody else,” commented Councillor Jay Brennan, chair of the Jan. 15 special meeting of council’s Committee of the Whole.