Visitors who come to Moose Jaw this February to attend the 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts curling championship will have several transportation options available to them.
During its Oct. 15 regular meeting, city council voted to provide free transit to Mosaic Place from Feb. 14 to 23, 2020 while the tournament is on to any person who can provide a ticket to a draw. Furthermore, temporary one-hour parking zones will be established on the 300 block of High Street West during that time.
Mosaic Place hosted the Scotties in 2015, and during the event, parking issues were identified, including parking meter time limits and available area parking, a report from city administration explained. Furthermore, nearby businesses raised concerns about the lack of customer parking.
Parking meters were then set at two-hour time limits, which didn’t give some attendees enough time to participate in events — they had to leave regularly to ensure their meter wasn’t expired. Parking meter time limits have since been increased to three hours.
“This should assist in alleviating most of these issues,” the report noted.
The municipality’s communications manager spoke with businesses on the 300 block of High Street West in September to gauge their concerns about customer parking during the Scotties. Only one business thought it imperative to institute a customer-only parking restriction during the tournament, the report said. The other businesses were willing to be inconvenienced with parking problems instead of drawing negative attention with complaints.
“Enforcement will be an issue, but it’s (about) trying to have some support for our businesses when the Scotties are on,” city manager Jim Puffalt said. “It’s a huge opportunity for our city. We want to make it the same for all businesses impacted by it.”
Similar transportation service was provided in 2015, but there was very little uptake by tournament visitors, Puffalt told Coun. Chris Warren. City administration doesn’t have information about why visitors didn’t use the free bus service.
The hotels association is again offering transit for its member hotels during the Scotties, added Puffalt. This will give guests the option to ride instead of looking for parking in the winter.
Based on past information, there might have been only 14 people who took the bus during the 2015 Scotties, said Coun. Brian Swanson. While this transit proposal may look good on paper, it “really sucks in reality.” He thought it would be difficult to enforce the one-hour parking rule and looked forward to seeing how the municipality handles this problem.
“I don’t know how many people will use the bus service, but we won’t know until we try,” Puffalt said.
Coun. Scott McMann wondered if city administration had considered offering parking on other area streets, such as the 400 block of High Street and River Street.
There may be an opportunity for parking across from Mosaic Place, but administration has to speak with Spectra Venue Management Services about that, said Puffalt. He added there were no problems with parking beyond the 300 block in 2015.
The problem with the 300 block is there are no meters there, so people think they can park there all day, noted Coun. Dawn Luhning. Council needs to consider the businesses there since they have operated here for years. Luhning thought the parking recommendations being offered were a good solution.
Offering free bus service shows Moose Jaw is a welcoming city, said Mayor Fraser Tolmie. Working with the Scotties shows the municipality likes the organization and is thrilled to have it back.
“It’s an injection of money into our community. The least we can do is be hospitable and give someone a bus ride,” he added.
Since there will be more than 400 volunteers — mainly from Moose Jaw — offering free bus service ensures volunteers won’t have to wrestle with parking, added Coun. Crystal Froese. She liked this initiative and hoped there would be more uptake.
The next regular council meeting is Oct. 28.