Fitzgerald Avenue residents will be able to park in front of their homes again.
Courtenay council voted Monday to remove the no-parking signs on Fitzgerald between 17th and 26th streets — which were set up temporarily during Cliffe Avenue construction — after receiving a petition signed by 93 Fitzgerald Avenue residents asking the city to take down the signs and let them park in front of their houses.
Residents filled most of the council chambers and clapped when council made its decision.
Coun. Larry Jangula strongly supported the residents.
“I’ve had quite a bit of discussion with these people, and I’ve found them to be very professional and very respectful,” he said. “I think that their concerns are well-taken. We’re beyond the completion of the construction on Cliffe Avenue, and there’s still no-parking signs up there, and I don’t think that’s fair to them. The people especially who are on the west side don’t even have a back alley entrance to their property.”
Jangula brought up three other issues the residents have raised — they want a pedestrian-controlled crosswalk at 19th and Fitzgerald, they want another crosswalk at 23rd, and they would like a sidewalk on the west side.
“I certainly strongly support all of them,” he said. “I think they’re reasonable requests, and they’re not requests that are going to cost a huge amount of money.”
Administrator Sandy Gray told council the no-parking signs could be taken down immediately,
“The issue about this particular roadway and the temporary signs, from my point of view, I’ve made it abundantly clear those signs were to come down as soon as the Cliffe Avenue work is finished,” he said, noting the work was completed last week or just before.
There has been some confusion, as a staff report is scheduled to come before council in a few weeks that looks at eliminating parking on the street to make way for a bike lane, explained Gray.
“The issue of a bike lane has sidetracked this issue, but there’s absolutely nothing in my mind that would stop you from taking the signs down,” he said. “There’s been parking on that street since the beginning of time, and bikes have been able to use it since the beginning of time; the only issue right now is how to create a bike lane and the matter of public safety on the streets.”
These homes have been there for probably more than 30 or 40 years, noted Coun. Manno Theos.
Theos also raised what he sees as safety benefits of having cars parked on the road.
“I drive that street pretty regularly, and from my perspective, having cars parked on the side of the road actually slows down traffic and creates traffic safety, because without cars on the side there, people are trying to squeeze into both lanes as they’re approaching 17th Street, and it becomes a real dangerous situation,” he said. “With a lot of families and older people living in that area, I think we should really revisit this and see what kinds of solutions we can come up with.”