Park­ing plan tweaked

DIA board cuts time rec­om­mended for lot park­ing; spe­cial board meet­ing set for Jan. 15

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - FRONT PAGE - DENIS LANGLOIS SUN TIMES STAFF

The Owen Sound Down­town Im­prove­ment Area board has opted to make a last-minute change to a com­pli­men­tary park­ing plan for the core, af­ter hear­ing con­cerns from some mem­bers.

Chair Dave Par­sons said the up­dated pro­posal, if given fi­nal ap­proval, will of­fer busi­ness-spon­sored park­ing in mu­nic­i­pal lots for up to five hours – in­stead of nine – as well as two hours in on-street spa­ces.

“A num­ber of peo­ple had re­sponded to us say­ing they were re­ally con­cerned about nine hours be­ing too long and that those who work in our es­tab­lish­ments might take over the lots and so there wouldn’t be room for our cus­tomers,” he said Fri­day in an in­ter­view.

“So we were able to waive that mo­tion and change it to five hours in the lots.”

The re­vised park­ing plan, which is to be fi­nanced by the DIA redi­rect­ing $180,000 of its levy to the city an­nu­ally, was ap­proved unan­i­mously at a Wed­nes­day board meet­ing, Par­sons said. One board mem­ber was ab­sent.

Par­sons has called a spe­cial DIA board meet­ing for Jan. 15 at 5 p.m. for a vote on Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing min­utes, which must be ap­proved for the mo­tions to re­ceive the fi­nal green light. The board will also be re­view­ing a re­vised me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing be­tween the DIA and city re­gard­ing the pro­posed changes to the DIA’s struc­ture.

Call­ing the spe­cial meet­ing paves the way for a fi­nal DIA plan to be pre­sented to coun­cil at its Jan. 21 meet­ing.

Coun­cil would then have to vote to re­ceive the Jan. 15 min­utes and ap­prove the plan as part of Owen Sound’s 2019 bud­get for the new park­ing rules to be im­ple­mented.

“If city coun­cil ap­proves, it’s pro­posed that we have this in place by March 1,” Par­sons said.

The DIA board en­dorsed the busi­ness-spon­sored park­ing plan Oct. 24 and was to ap­prove the min­utes of that meet­ing Wed­nes­day. It did so, but with the change to the time limit in the lots.

Par­sons said that ad­just­ment will mean peo­ple who want to park in the mu­nic­i­pal lots for more than five hours at a time will still have to buy a city park­ing pass.

The DIA is plan­ning to free up the $180,000 in its bud­get – so that money can go to the city to finance the down­town park­ing sys­tem – by clos­ing its 2nd Av­enue East of­fice, ter­mi­nat­ing all staff po­si­tions and trans­fer­ring all ad­min­is­tra­tion and down­town main­te­nance du­ties to the city. DIA man­ager Deb Black­shaw is set to re­tire March 1.

The plan also calls for the DIA to re­main as an au­ton­o­mous board that will “con­tinue to make de­ci­sions re­gard­ing all mat­ters re­lat­ing to the beau­ti­fi­ca­tion, main­te­nance and pro­mo­tion of down­town Owen Sound.”

A draft DIA bud­get for 2019 shows the board would have about $26,300 left from its levy, which is paid by down­town prop­erty own­ers, for mar­ket­ing and events and $18,500 for beau­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The money for com­pli­men­tary park­ing would make up about 75 per cent of the $240,000 bud­get.

The DIA board has di­rected that the busi­ness-spon­sored park­ing sys­tem be re­viewed in two years.

Peter Reid, owner of the Chicago Build­ing on 10th Street East, which is within the DIA, has been voic­ing con­cerns for months about the nine­hour com­pli­men­tary park­ing pro­posal for the mu­nic­i­pal lots. He has said the move would hurt busi­nesses with­out on-street park­ing be­cause the lot spa­ces would be filled up with the ve­hi­cles of down­town work­ers.

“I’m pleased they have changed their plan and have given the lots a more equal treat­ment en­sur­ing park­ing turnover,” he said Fri­day.

But Reid said he remains con­cerned about how ef­fec­tive the DIA will be at pro­mot­ing the down­town af­ter the changes take ef­fect.

He said the DIA bud­get for mar­ket­ing will drop by 33 per cent – it was $39,400 in 2018 – and the board re­cently de­cided to re­duce the num­ber of an­nual DIA events from 17 to seven.

“Two of these planned events are the AGM and the cel­e­bra­tion for OSDIA mem­bers, so only five mar­ket­ing events re­main. In light of the much-needed work on the 10th Street bridge and the dis­rup­tions this will bring to the down­town, I feel they need to do much much more,” he said. Owen Sound park­ing is a user-funded sys­tem, so the pro­posed changes will not save the city any money. They will only al­ter who cov­ers the sys­tem’s ex­penses – from park­ers to DIA mem­bers. The city would con­tinue to have some en­force­ment, such as to en­sure peo­ple aren’t oc­cu­py­ing on­street spots for more than two hours on week­days.

DENIS LANGLOIS/THE SUN TIMES/POS

Diana Pre­ston of Owen Sound puts a toonie in a park­ing ma­chine in one of the city's mu­nic­i­pal lots on 3rd Av­enue East Fri­day af­ter­noon. If a DIA pro­posal goes ahead, peo­ple will be able to park for free in mu­nic­i­pal lots for up to five hours and in on-street spots for up to two hours. Right now, park­ing in mu­nic­i­pal lots costs 75 cents an hour or $5 a day on week­days, while me­tered spots on city streets are $1 an hour. It's free to park on cer­tain sec­tions of 2nd Av­enue East for up to two hours.

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