IPE parking congestion drives debate

Armstrong’s bylaw officer has concerns over parking during the city’s annual attraction.

In a four-page written report to council, Grant Colling expressed numerous issues and problems with regards to parking during the annual Interior Provincial Exhibition (IPE).

“The most important problem is the traffic congestion in front of the main gates, which was considerably worse this year (2010) than what I experienced in 2008 and 2009,” wrote Colling. “My primary concern is that with the congestion, there were numerous times that our road, boulevard and sidewalk were unsafe.”

Colling adds the congestion could make it difficult for emergency vehicles to respond appropriately, and, if they were called, their reserved parking areas may well already be full of non-emergency vehicles.

IPE general manager Bryan Burns wasn’t aware of Colling’s report but he said every year parking is at a premium for the fair.

“Every year we try to find new ways to improve parking and do shuttle services,” said Burns, adding that in his three years as general manager he’s never received any complaints about parking.

Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper said the problem is that everybody wants to park in town during the five-day fair.

“We’ve been doing shuttle bus runs for three years, but people don’t want to take shuttles,” said Pieper. “The buses run back and forth, empty.”

Colling’s report included seven recommendations for improved parking, including new and better signage, bumper stickers, no-parking zones and extra security.

“With better signage, and the posting of one or two security guards outside the gates to provide traffic control, it would provide a much safer environment for all concerned,” Colling wrote.

Pieper said council and staff will peruse Colling’s report carefully.

“We’ll go through it and see how we can improve parking,” he said.

Burns is willing to work with the city to find answers.

“Absolutely,” he said. “We are one of the largest agriculture fairs in B.C. and with Armstrong not being a large city, we have to work closely (with the city) and figure out any solutions to any problems we have.”