'It's disgusting,' Ford not impressed with visitor parking rates in Barrie, Ont.
BARRIE, ONT. -- Premier Doug Ford didn't mince words on Friday when asked about the city of Barrie's new parking rates for out-of-towners, calling it "disgusting."
The city recently jumped the price of parking at several waterfront lots for non-residents to curb overcrowding.
It's a move that Ford strongly disagreed with, going so far as to call it an example of price-gouging.
"You know what I can't stand? I can't stand when companies or governments take advantage of people in a crisis," Ford said during a media briefing in Markham.
Visitors to Barrie's waterfront have to pay $10 per hour or $50 per day. Rates were previously $3 an hour and $20 a day. Residents are required to display a parking permit.
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman responded to the premier's accusation of price-gouging, suggesting Ford may not be aware of the overcrowding issues. "Otherwise, he would have understood that the parking prices are not an attempt to profit, but an attempt to deal with the lack of distancing and overcrowding we have seen, as well as help recoup some of the costs associated with these problems."
"We don't want people's $50, and we don't want to issue a ton of parking tickets or bylaw tickets. We want to reduce the crowds and help make sure people stay safe," Lehman continued.
The premier said he planned to take the issue up with Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MPP Doug Downey.
Mayor Lehman added he's disappointed by the premier's comments. "I'd be pleased to invite him to Barrie to view the situation and discuss this issue if he would like."
The new prices took several daytrippers by surprise last weekend.
"It's really expensive," said Mississauga resident Melissa Alves. "We were actually shocked by the price."
The surge in parking prices aren't the only measure the city has taken in recent weeks to deal with the swarms of visitors to the area.
It also stepped up enforcement at smaller beaches that have attracted mobs of people who leave behind piles of garbage and line residential streets with illegally parked vehicles.
Starting Saturday, the city is banning barbeques and tents at beaches, parks, and trails to deter visitors from staying for long periods of time.