An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
EVERY TIME City Hall brings up the issue of losing revenue from parking in downtown Kamloops I wonder about the oft-stated rationale for charging people to park their cars.
Supposedly, parking fees have one purpose: charging by the hour discourages drivers from hogging spaces. If they have to move their vehicles in order to avoid parking fines, they’re much more likely not to overstay their welcome.
It’s no different, really, than putting up signs on streets a little further from the core stating limits on how long we can park there. If we park for too long, we get a ticket. The only difference is that on streets with a lot of stores, which have meters, we have to pay for the time we’re there.
Keep ‘em moving. Yet, when an issue such as sidewalk patios comes up, as it did at City council last week, part of the consideration involves the loss of revenue from closing off parking spaces.
A report from staff noted that current patios displace about 40 metered parking stalls, resulting in an estimated loss of parking revenue of $15,000 a month.
A survey by the Downtown Central Business Improvement Association showed that, by and large, merchants feel the benefits of the patios outweigh the loss of parking.
Yet, the recommendation approved by City council sets up ongoing fees for merchants wishing to maintain the patios in front of their stores based partly on the loss of parking revenue. The staff report states the fee schedule won’t completely cover the loss of fees from the displaced stalls.
But why is parking revenue considered at all if it’s supposed to be a device to keep shoppers moving? It looks very much as though City Hall has grown accustomed to those fees as a revenue stream and is loath to let them go.
So let’s call parking fees what they really are: a money maker for City Hall.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at email@example.com.