By Korie Marshall

The experimental parking area for sledding vehicles between the health clinic and Monashee Motors isn’t working to help alleviate congestion on 5th Avenue, according to neighbouring business owners.

The parking area was set up earlier this winter on a vacant lot owned by the Village, in an attempt to alleviate congestion issues and parking along 5th Avenue near the hotels. Brochures and maps were placed at the hotels, and signs erected at the front of the lot.

Doug Jensen, owner of Monashee Motors, says he’s only seen the parking area used a few times, including once when he told a sledder parked in front of his shop that his truck would be towed if he left it there.

Hotel owners Charles Kosmadia and Francis Meersman say they did not receive the brochures, but have enough parking to accommodate their guests. Kosmadia, owner of the Alpine Inn, says he has an extra lot across the street, next to the Moose Pub, that is used by sled trucks.

Meersman, owner of the Yellowhead Motel says his front parking area isn’t ideal, as it appears from the front it’s the only space he has, but he actually has two more lots at the rear of the property. He says he spends a lot of time organizing his guests’ vehicles to ensure he can fit them all, but he is often frustrated by sled trucks parking on 5th Avenue in front of his property – an area he’s been told by the Village not to use.

The Super 8 does have brochures from the Village, but receptionist Dorthe Flauer notes they would have been better if they had been individualized for the hotel, with a “you are here” mark. The Super 8 has parking at the rear, but has also posted warnings to patrons not to block the businesses next door or the fire lane.

Jin Kim and Yoon Jee, owners of the Chalet Continental, say sledders don’t want to use the Village’s parking lot because it is too far away, and they can’t see their vehicle. Even if it was run as a business, providing security, they don’t think sledders would use it because of the extra cost.

The parking lot exit on 6th Avenue was blocked by a huge pile of cleared snow recently. In order to get out, drivers using the lot would have had to go through the medical clinic parking lot.

Valemount Council approved permits to use the lot at 1445 5th Avenue as overflow parking until April 30, 2014 to see if it could help alleviate congestion around the hotel district during the winter sledding season. Village administrator Anne Yanciw says they have not received any complaints about the parking lot, but they are monitoring usage, and will provide that information to Council when they review the parking lot.