Parking rates, fines to rise Jan. 1
Parking downtown is about to cost a bit more.
Starting Jan. 1, a parking ticket for an expired meter or for overtime parking at a pay-and-display will cost $25 instead of the current $15. Furthermore, parking for an hour will cost $1.25 instead of $1.
Terry Guiel, the executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement Area, objected to the increase in parking fees and fines, saying it will result in “angry shoppers.”
“The immediate 25 per cent increase is harsh,” he said, adding that he also thinks it’s about time the city allows motorists to pay for parking with their smartphones.
It’s not good enough to have only coin-operated meters, he said - and he added that an increase is going to hurt downtown businesses.
“The downtown is already hit really hard. We don’t need punitive measures,” he said.
But council went ahead with its plan.
Coun. Don Vassiliadis said council knows upgraded meters are needed – but it’s expensive and the city needs to save up. Meanwhile he thinks parking fees and fines are necessary.
“We need more parking spots – this will help us pay for it,” he said. “It’s been 12 years since we’ve raised our prices. If you think of it, it’s a quarter. Twenty-five cents ... it’s a reasonable request.”
The increases are meant to help the city come up with the money to keep enough parking downtown. Councillors heard from city staff last week that roughly 750 parking spaces will be lost to development, over the next decade.
A new urban park will soon be built over the Louis St. parking lot, for example.
And councillors have yet to decide whether they will give half the Brock St. parking lot to Atria Development, which wants to use the space for tenant parking as it converts the former YMCA into the high-end Y Lofts.
Adding another storey to the King St. parking garage is one idea staff would like to consider, but it’s pricey at $30 million.
That cost could balloon to $46 million if construction is put off until 2027, states a new city staff report.
With just $1.4 million in the city reserves meant for parking, council is looking for new ways to raise money: hence the proposed increase in parking fines and fees.
Coun. Keith Riel said he didn’t like the idea of increases: “It’s a detriment and a deterant to shopping downtown,” he said.
Coun. Dave Haacke said he wouldn’t support the plan either – not until there’s a more complete plan for allowing downtown buildings to be redeveloped.
But Coun. Lesley Parnell also supported the plan, saying the downtown gets special services; for example, the city picks up downtown snow and transports it to a snow dump.
“That’s of benefit to the downtown,” she said.
She also said the city needs to save to build another storey on the parking garage: “We need to be very smart – we need to be putting money away.”