Today, at city council, we will be deciding whether to approve proposed changes to downtown on street parking rates, technology, and fines.
In a nutshell, the proposed changes are:
- to replace 850 parking meters with 90 parking pay stations. This is being recommended mainly, in my mind, to offer more payment options (credit card, for example) and to allow merchants the ability to validate their customer's parking.
- to raise the parking rates from 50 cents an hour to one dollar an hour: This is being recommended to reduce the amount of people parking for long periods and to pay for other improvements in downtown parking / transportation. All the net money from the increase in rates, after paying for the new kiosks, and after paying the operating cost for our parking management operations, will go into a fund that will be used to pay for these future improvements. I am hopeful that the money will not simply going into parking stalls but will also be used for efforts to alleviate parking pressure downtown (such as a free downtown shuttle).
I find it very rare that I agree 100% with any proposal that comes through council. I don't like taking on debt interest payments, for example, and this proposal comes with at least $60 000 of interest. That interest is forecasted to be paid by the increase in parking rates. But, what if the new technology and the higher rate drives people away from downtown.
I am still very supportive of the recommendations, though. And probably the number one reason why is that because it's downtown businesspeople who driven and recommended the proposed changes. Council endorsed a Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association parking solutions working group. This group has been working for over 15 months discussing the parking issue and proposing the above solutions, with input from city staff. I feel it's downtown businesspeople who have the most to lose if people are driven away from parking downtown. And they have vetted and agreed to recommend these proposed changes. This personally gives me a lot of confidence.