Parking concerns hurting downtown businesses

Parking concerns hurting downtown businesses; taxpayers, and local businesses who are already struggling to survive downtown, should not be subsidizing municipal employee parking.

Our downtown is suffering, with a number of businesses leaving the core in recent months. One of the key issues that downtown businesses have identified is parking – availability, cost, enforcement. Businesses say their clients are going elsewhere because of parking concerns:

  • some customers don’t want to pay for parking and have taken their business elsewhere
  • other customers don’t mind paying for parking, but need more than the 2-hour limit to complete their visit
  • customers complain of aggressive enforcement, resulting in high tickets for being a few minutes over the metered time
  • customers say it’s hard to find parking close to shops
  • customers say it would be easier to pay for parking via debit/credit machines than having to search for pocket change.

The city has commissioned a parking study to explore these issues, and determine whether there is an adequate supply of parking. Part of that study includes a customer survey.

Currently, businesses do not have to provide on-site parking, but instead pay into a levy to build future parking. Everyone pays, even if they have on-site parking. Paid parking revenues also go into the fund.

City staff park free downtown

However, the city is missing a significant revenue stream for parking by offering all municipal employees free parking in local lots. Staff have the option of a free bus pass or free parking pass, and most choose the parking. Everyone else who works or visits downtown must pay for parking. Monthly rates range from $60-104, depending on the lot.

The lost revenue from free staff parking is worth about $185k annually.

My Take: Taxpayers, and local businesses who are already struggling to survive downtown, should not be subsidizing municipal employee parking. We need a consistent level playing field – either everyone pay for parking or it’s free for all, which would certainly address some of the parking challenges our businesses are facing. I voluntarily pay $104/month into the city’s parking fund for my parking spot.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

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