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.