NEWS/ CITY HALL — Drivers who park downtown may get a Christmas present from City council Tuesday — a scheduled increase in parking rates may be put off for a year.
Corporate services and community safety director David Duckworth recommends in a report going to council that the current $1-per-hour rate remain for another year instead of being boosted to $1.25 in January.
He says the increase was supposed to offset capital and ongoing operating costs of on-street parking and also contribute to a fund for future parking improvements. Adding 25 cents per hour in 2015 would bring in $250,000.
However, says Duckworth’s report, some changes to on-street parking have been delayed, “only now nearing completion.” Therefore, the rate increase should be put off until Jan. 1, 2016, he says.
“While this could affect funding considerations for other parking improvements in the future, the reserve is in its infancy. Hence, the proposed one-year deferral is expected to have little impact.
“The current rates sufficiently offset the annual operating and debt servicing costs of the on-street parking project that was implemented in 2013-2014.”
Duckworth says delaying the rate increase is likely to be favourably received by the public and downtown businesses.
While the report doesn’t go into details about which changes to parking have been delayed, the installation of kiosks in the downtown area has been beset by occasional operational problems, a phone app took longer than expected to be brought on stream, and new screens have just recently gone into some of the kiosks in answer to complaints about the difficulty in reading the old ones.
The first phase of parking-rate changes boosted fees from 50 cents an hour to $1. If council accepts Duckworth’s recommendation, the on-street rate would rise to $1.25 an hour for the first two hours and $2.50 an hour for the third hour on Jan. 1, 2016.
The next increase would be to $1.50 an hour for the first two hours.