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More than 50 tickets issued during first weekend of visitor restrictions

So far, almost 5,000 free resident parking permits have been issued; Despite taking an education-first approach, 53 tickets were issued Sunday

As the city heads into the second week of its crackdown on visitors to local beaches and boat launches, almost 5,000 Orillia residents have been issued free parking permits.

At a special council meeting earlier this month, city council agreed to implement a new waterfront parking regime and other measures after the city was inundated with out-of-town visitors amid fears of spreading the dreaded coronavirus.

As of last Thursday (July 9), the new weekend restrictions were put in place.

As a result, for Thursdays through Sundays from now until mid-September, non-Orillia residents must pay $50 to park in lots at Moose Beach in Tudhope Park and Couchiching Beach in Couchiching Beach Park.

In addition, those from outside Orillia also have to ante up $50 to launch their boats at the city's two municipal boat launches.

To further discourage visitors, small visitor-only lots were created at both beaches, allowing the bulk of the spots to be used by local residents. In addition, parking in downtown lots was restricted and signs were put up on nearby residential streets forbidding out-of-town residents to park.

Last weekend, the weather helped the cause as rain kept many people from sun-bathing and swimming.

Jennifer Ruff, the city’s director of communications and business development, said bylaw enforcement staff took an education-first approach last weekend.

“As the program was being fully implemented and we wanted to give residents a chance to get their resident parking permits, the initial enforcement strategy was to issue warnings as a courtesy on Friday and Saturday,” said Ruff.

“A large number of parking warnings were issued. Nine warnings were issued to groups over 10. These groups all complied when engaged by municipal law enforcement personnel,” she said.

On Sunday, however, staff took a tougher approach and issued 53 parking tickets.

This weekend, a hot and sunny forecast could prove more challenging.

City officials will continue to monitor the situation and will have all four full-time bylaw officers working to keep an eye on things during the weekend.

As of yesterday morning, more than 4,700 parking permits had been issued to city residents. With that permit on their dash, residents can park for free at the beach areas and can launch their boats for free.

You can get your ticket online and print it for yourself. If that’s not an option, you can get your permit at the administration office at Tudhope Park or at the Waterfront Centre from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Thursday through Sundays.

City staff will report back to council in the fall with a more long-term strategy that could include parking permits for residents living in surrounding townships.