Hamil­ton looks at rais­ing street park­ing fees

Sur­vey finds city has one of the low­est rates

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN

HAMIL­TON COUN­CIL­LORS will look at hik­ing hourly street park­ing rates that are among the cheap­est in Canada.

The city’s $1-per-hour me­ter rates are the low­est among ci­ties par­tic­i­pat­ing in cross-coun­try bench­mark­ing stud­ies of mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices.

The av­er­age rate among those ci­ties is $1.88 per hour.

Coun­cil­lors in­creased the cost of monthly passes for some mu­nic­i­pal park­ing lots last year by $10 but left me­ter prices alone. Coun. Chad Collins called street park­ing rates an “ob­vi­ous op­por­tu­nity” to raise more rev­enue in a year where coun­cil­lors are strug­gling to rein in a pos­si­ble 4 or 5-per cent av­er­age tax hike.

To cut the an­tic­i­pated tax in­creases be­low 2 per cent, coun­cil­lors must find nearly $20 mil­lion in sav­ings or new rev­enue.

“We con­tinue to have sub­stan­tially lower rates than com­pa­ra­ble mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, in some cases a quar­ter of what oth­ers charge,” he said.

Coun­cil­lors sup­ported his mo­tion to

have park­ing staff con­sult with neigh­bour­hood busi­ness im­prove­ment groups on a 25 or 50-cent hike and re­port back be­fore the 2017 bud­get is approved.

Staff will also re­port on a pos­si­ble $5 in­crease for monthly park­ing lot rates, as well as the prospects to add up to 283 new me­ters, mostly in the lower city.

If the city im­ple­mented all of the pro­posed changes it would col­lect close to an­other $650,000 in rev­enue an­nu­ally.

Coun. Ja­son Farr, who rep­re­sents the down­town ward with the most me­tered spots and mu­nic­i­pal park­ing lots, said the changes make sense as coun­cil pur­sues “aus­ter­ity” bud­get mea­sures that in­clude a closed-door de­bate about pos­si­ble job cuts.

He also ar­gued coun­cil has a man­date to give ci­ti­zens the op­tion to “get out of their cars.”

That’s a tough sell, Farr said, when it costs less monthly to park at a ma­jor­ity of city park­ing lots than it does to buy a $95 bus pass.

A park­ing rate hike would be eas­ier for down­town busi­nesses to swal­low if it was paired with up­graded tech­nol­ogy — such as the abil­ity to pay by phone, for ex­am­ple, said Kerry Jarvi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the down­town BIA.

“We’re con­stantly fight­ing the as­sump­tion that there is no park­ing (down­town), so adding to the cost is just one more fac­tor that might keep some­one away,” she said.

“But if you make it eas­ier, more con­ve­nient for peo­ple, I think that would be more palat­able.”

Oth­er­wise, Jarvi said a sim­i­lar dis­cus­sion dur­ing bud­get talks last year showed down­town mer­chants were split over whether a 50-cent hike would make a dif­fer­ence to cus­tomers.

Park­ing head Marty Hazel said the city will have up­graded its en­force­ment tech­nol­ogy this spring to the point where it can ex­plore payby-phone tech­nolo­gies or apps.

But coun­cil will still have to weigh in on the op­tions later this year — and find the money to pay for any change.

The city has around 2,500 tra­di­tional park­ing me­ters.

It also has a grow­ing num­ber of pay-and-dis­play boxes that al­low the use of credit cards.

We con­tinue to have sub­stan­tially lower rates than com­pa­ra­ble mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties ... COUN. CHAD COLLINS

The city has around 2,500 tra­di­tional park­ing me­ters

JOHN RENNISON, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

If the city im­ple­mented all of the pro­posed changes it would col­lect close to an­other $650,000 in rev­enue an­nu­ally.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.