The Parking Problem – ImPort Stanley

blue and white sign informs visitors to Little Beach that paid parking is in effect and no overnight camping is allowed

ImPort Stanley is weekly series about life and discoveries by a recent “import” to Port Stanley, ONAccess previous posts on everything from shopping to hotels and our beaches by clicking the tag ImPort Stanley.

Can anyone explain Port Stanley’s new parking rules to me, in three sentences or less? It’s a pebble in our sandal, for sure.

It’s a long weekend and here on the shore of Lake Erie, there will be more cars than places to park. Parking is a problem everywhere. Here in Port Stanley, the situation is fluid.

The municipality now enforces paid parking from May 1 – September 30 at $4 per hour to a max of $20. Or, $30 if you’re pulling a trailer. But there is also a season-pass option – $100 bucks to park as often as you want, $120 with a boat trailer.

Something had to change for a couple of reasons. People don’t like to pay for parking, so some roam side streets looking for a free alternative. Most are respectful but some are not. They block fire hydrants and even double park when they run out of patience. They park between cottages, sticking out into two driveways, hop fences and run through private yards to reach the sand.

And it’s not confined to the main beach area, where the massive lot at GT’s fills up in a hot minute. It sometimes happens in the core of the village and anywhere within walking distance of Little Beach.

Reason #2: Central Elgin needs to get more money out of Port Stanley and it’s trying to do so without raising taxes. There are big plans for improvements in the coming years and they have to get funded somehow.

So, parking in the village was limited to two hours between 10 am and 5 pm. It now costs to park at several previously free parking lots. Paid lots are at the IDA, Little Beach, East Headlands, the Visitor Centre, and Erie Rest beach.

It’s a delicate balancing act between needing tourists and trying to force some of them to remember that this is our home. Council looked at the idea of painting parking spots on main streets but ultimately decided against it. They’d have to paint spots big enough to accommodate the largest vehicles, thereby deterring smaller ones from getting closer together. In short, they felt it would reduce the number of cars that could park.

The latest development is a rethink of the whole thing. This comes in reaction to an outcry from village merchants and others. The concept of paid parking has been in Port Stanley for less than a decade. There was outrage and, some said, lower tourism dollars when it was first brought in. Now it’s just part of the way of life here.

Two Forks backs onto the IDA lot which is now paid parking. So, this confuses me.

Some want to return to free core parking. Others say, make it free during the week and make visitors pay to park on weekends. It’s a work in progress for sure. And some villagers say enforcement isn’t happening yet. On our early morning walks, we see campers at Little Beach and along the harbour where they are “forbidden”. They come in late and leave early. I’m not saying anyone should take a chance. Just telling you what I’ve heard!

If you want to avoid paying for parking, make friends with someone who lives close to the action. Preferably someone who has a double driveway. That way, you can park at their place and not get in their way.

Or – and this is drastic – arrive by helicopter and rappel down to the lakeshore. No parking spot needed. However, I’m assuming only Tom Cruise would drop in this way.

8 thoughts on “The Parking Problem – ImPort Stanley”

  1. Boy that really does sound confusing at the least, infuriating at its worst. I hope your questions are answered and that writing about it brings it to the attention of those who really need to figure this out! That being said, I hope somehow it’s a good summer for all and that people respect boundaries and try a little empathy.

  2. Why not put paid parking on residential streets with passes for residents who need to park on their street? With the Honk app (, it’s easy, they don’t even have to install meters. Or, make streets within walking distance to the beach no parking like they do in cities around hospitals?

    And obviously, these wouldn’t apply to residents with a parking pass.

    1. The town uses the Honk app for paid parking. Some of these ideas are in place. And it’s mostly locals who are buying the $100 season passes I mentioned. Unfortunately, not everyone uses the app or a smartphone for that matter. So they have the option of putting in a credit card or using the app. The machines were installed this spring.

  3. I’m not in favour of Tom Cruise arriving by helicopter in Port Stanley, because we would never the end of how he flew it himself and doesn’t need a stuntman.

  4. It is a shame that there is paid parking as the money will be buried in the Elgin county coffers. Has curtailed our visits to Port. Feel sorry for the loss of revenues for the local businesses when paid parking is in effect, as a tourist..

  5. We had tickets last year for the Theatre. We ended up on a lot behind the pharmacy.They had the ticket machine installed -there were 5 of us standing to pay. There were problems getting the machine to work to give us a ticket to display in our window. Finally after 22 minutes we got the ticket from someone in line frustrating not to mention a charge of 20.00 extra …..We have a gift certificate we will use this summer but will NOT be returning again. Street parking is never available for free ……always taken! Now they have MORE paid parking everywhere! Drayton Theatre “always” had large free parking at their many locations.

    1. I understand your frustration. It may seem like you’re comparing apples to apples if going to the theatre is your only purpose here. But in the town’s defence, parking revenue covers things like beach grooming and Christmas decorations. No offence to Drayton but no one goes there for the beach! 😊

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