Parking on Hwy. 16, between Home Hardware and RBC Royal Bank, continues to be an issue in Burns Lake, according to staff sergeant Charlotte Peters with the Burns Lake RCMP.
Peters said the detachment has received many complaints from community members about the lack of available parking spaces along that stretch of the highway, which many feel should be reserved for visitors and people who spend money on local businesses.
Common complaints include that staff from local businesses and students of the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association (PGNAETA) have been parking along the highway.
Peters said she has gone to PGNAETA herself to ask students not to park on Hwy. 16 and use the parking lot across the street instead. However, Peters said there’s not much the RCMP can do without any changes to the current bylaws.
“I don’t have much a hammer to deal with the problem,” said Peters. “Our hands are a little bit tied with the lack of a parking bylaw in the community.”
According to a bylaw that regulates and controls traffic within the village’s boundaries (Bylaw 483), people who choose to park their vehicles for eight hours along the highway during the workday are technically not doing anything wrong. The current bylaw specifies that parking cannot exceed 24 hours.
Peters brought the issue to the attention of council earlier this month. Councillor Susan Schienbein thanked Peters on behalf of council.
“This issue has come to us before, but it’s good to hear it from you,” said Schienbein.
According to Sheryl Worthing, Chief Administrative Officer for the Village of Burns Lake, the village has recently invited downtown business owners to a meeting to discuss these parking issues.
“At this point the plan is to meet with business owners to find out what their main concerns are and then work together to come up with solutions,” she said.
Since the meeting took place last night, details of the meeting were not available by press time.
Councillor Kelly Holliday, who owns a business in that stretch of the highway, said it makes a big difference for businesses to have available parking spaces in front of their stores.
“I really believe the impulse buyer that might be travelling through will see your store front window or your service window, and if there’s an available parking space in front, they will make the decision to pull in, stop, come in and probably buy,” said Holliday last September. “If someone is parked in front of your window for eight hours a day, no one can see it when they are driving by.”
“We absolutely need to revitalize the bylaw,” she added.