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Midland's controversial parking program gets a 'reboot'

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The controversy continues in downtown Midland, with business owners frustrated over the new parking system that they claim has turned customers away.

"This past January, it went into enforcement, and that's when we saw a severe decline," said The Pebble Tree owner Joannie Petroff.

The town reported hundreds of complaints since the meters were installed.

Glen Canning, owner of The Elegant Gourmet, said he lost some of his regular customers who were put off by the new parking measures.

"I've had regulars who would come in once or twice a week that just stopped showing up," he said. "They told me that they were not coming downtown because they were frustrated with the interface of the parking system, and they were just frustrated with the idea of paying in the parking lots."

Canning and Petroff said they couldn't afford to lose business after the toll the pandemic had taken.

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Midland Mayor Stewart Strathearn said council decided on a "reboot" after feedback from the Business Improvement Area, the Chamber of Commerce, and residents.

"Go back to free parking in the lots, paid parking on the streets, which is what we had before," the mayor said.

Additionally, the new meters are being reworked, so licence plate numbers aren't needed to pay for parking.

Despite the addition of paid street parking on Saturdays, Petroff said she's impressed the town heard their concerns.

"They did try and compromise with everyone. It was a compromise on both sides."

However, the town said the downtown upgrades would have to be paid eventually, potentially with a permit-type program.

"You have the same privileges, but again, you're offsetting what will eventually be in the next budget," the mayor concluded.

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