By Belle Hatfield
For The Vanguard
Yarmouth Mayor Phil Mooney was on the golf course in Clare participating in the Jody Shelley Golf Fore Health tournament when he got the first phone call on the afternoon of Friday, July 6.
A local business operator was complaining that staff couldn’t access parking spaces on First Street.
In preparation for the weekend activities, organizers of the Tri-County Multicultural Festival had closed portions of streets and blocked access to all of the parking lots in the block encompassing Collins, Alma, First and Second streets.
Staff at the town hall and other town councillors were also fielding calls throughout the day on Friday as the closure created confusion, turned to irritation and, in some cases, confrontation.
Having received no notice that this year’s festival parking restrictions would be different from previous years, some staff of downtown businesses, including some who work for Transcontinental Media, parked on the Alma Street side of the lot that morning when they came to work.
At noon some were confronted when they went to their cars. One was told that vehicle registration numbers were being collected and the RCMP would be called.
Mayor Mooney said the town gave permissions to the festival organizers to take over the lots for the weekend, with the expectation that the festival’s requirements would be the same as in previous years.
In terms of the road closures, he was under the impression that the organizers may have been “operating beyond their authority.”
He said consultation with town staff soon had the streets opened and some of the confusion sorted out.
The mayor said if the festival tent is back on the same lot for next year’s event, these problems should not happen again.
“ We can take lessons from it,” he said.