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Councillor Tom Vegh, deputy mayor and regional councillor candidate for Newmarket, ordered what he called a “very boring,” blueberry muffin from Tim Horton’s before sitting down to discuss how more parking will help revitalize Main Street, what he called, “the heart of Newmarket.”
Vegh, a Newmarket resident for about 40 years, has 15 years of experience in managing Newmarket’s budget and has served as Newmarket Ward 1 councillor for 12 years, including the most recent 2014 to 2018 term. Newmarket has seven wards in total. Vegh is also the first ward councillor to run for deputy mayor and regional councillor in Newmarket. A main component of Vegh’s campaign is to expand Newmarket’s downtown parking and revamping the full Main Street stretch.
Vegh said that the successful redevelopment of Main Street over the passed decade has attracted too many visitors from in and around Newmarket for the existing parking to accommodate. “It’s starting to discourage people from coming to that downtown area,” Vegh said. “You have the family, the kids in the car, you’re going around in circles and there’s no parking, so you leave.” Vegh said that he goes to Main Street several times a week, whether it be for leisure or for work.
Main Street hosts many Newmarket events throughout the year including a Santa Claus parade, farmers’ markets, local concerts, the annual Canada Day festival, and a pride parade. With the consistency of events, parking has become problematic for visitors as they are forced to park on residential streets and parking lots allocated to specific venues.
Such venues include St. John’s Chrysostom Parish, which loses parking spaces for their parishioners when Main Street parking lots are full.
Christine Way Skinner, Lay Pastoral Associate for St. John’s Chrysostom Parish, said that the parishioners in the St. John’s community suffer the consequences of limited Main Street parking. “Big events cause some problems because of parking and the one way streets. Everybody wants to park in our parking lots and they don’t always ask,” Way Skinner said.
“When it comes time for mass at 5 o’clock and a whole bunch of people, who we don’t know who they are, are parked in our parking lots, that’s a little bit of a problem.” Way Skinner said that Vegh building a tier-parking lot, “would help a lot.” Way Skinner attends Main St. with her kids on a regular basis.
Way Skinner’s parking concerns from the parish community are echoed by Newmarket resident Amir Ghasemi, who says that more parking at Main Street would be beneficial.
“Over weekends, when you come to take a stroll on the street, it’s really hard to find a parking spot,” Ghasemi said. Ghasemi said that if the residents and Main Street visitors can accept the construction process of the parking lot, then it will be beneficial to everyone.
Ghasemi, an industrial engineer, sits in Main Street coffee shops to do work on his computer at least twice a week.
Ghasemi spoke of economic benefits too, when referring to extra parking and infrastructure, saying, “Any development, like what they did to Davis Drive, anything that comes to Newmarket is going to be a huge boom to the economy of this township.”
Vegh is pushing to invest in Main Street and downtown Newmarket in his campaign, tweeting Main Street’s success is, “a boost to our local economy,” and increasing parking capacity expands on that success.
“I really would think that right now, at this point, it’s what we want to do,” Vegh said in reference to the community’s desire for additional parking. “For Main Street, it’s success keeps growing and I think people would have liked that two or three years ago.”
Election day for Newmarket Ward 1 candidates is on October 22, 2018.