One of the best bargains in the city looks like it will soon be parked for good.
City council last week gave preliminary approval to increase fines for off-street parking violations from $2 to $25, the same as for on-street infractions. Monthly rates for reserved stalls in downtown parkades and lots are also going up by about $10 to $20 a month, depending on the location.
The price of hourly off-street parking will stay at 50 cents an hour, and as savvy parkers know, it’s currently cheaper in some cases to simply flout the rules.
“We (have) had people who would park in the lots and just take a $2 ticket, knowing that the all-day parking was actually $4,” said Guy Gusdal, the city’s manager of bylaw services.
Jacking up the fine is expected to improve people’s compliance with the bylaw, but also bring in additional revenue estimated at between $17,000 and $32,000. Combined with the higher rates for monthly parking, it could mean about a one-third revenue increase estimated at between $218,000 and $233,000 for the city’s parking control business unit.
Gusdal pointed out, however, that parking control pays its own way and is separate from the rest of the city’s operations. The added revenue will help build up reserves that were depleted by a $64,000 deficit in 2010.
The new money could also help redo some of the downtown lots in advance of the 2015 Canada Winter Games, a side benefit Gusdal said he came up with on his own.
“If we’re looking at the 2015 Games and you look at our surface lots, they’re not the most eye-pleasing thing out there,” he said.
All but one of the 18 city-owned parkades and lots have monthly occupancy rates over 75 per cent, with seven of them at 100 per cent capacity, according to a staff report.
Despite that, Coun. Garth Frizzell doesn’t consider downtown parking to be an emerging issue: “I haven’t had any trouble ever finding a spot within a block or two from where I needed to be. Ever.”
Frizzell also chairs council’s policy committee and said only the cost of parking has been discussed at that table. He did note, however, that giving parking tickets some teeth will also give a truer picture of the legitimate demand for parking.
Gusdal said the parking control program has four full-time employees and one supervisor, who are responsible for the entire city. Two of them are dedicated to the downtown foot patrol. If the bylaw amendments are approved, an additional half-time position will be reallocated from within existing staff to patrol off-street parking only.
City council is expected to to give final approval to the rate hikes and new fine structure at its next meeting on May 30. Gusdal said the changes would likely take effect August 1.