Modified proposal does little to appease BIAs, public
Welcome to downtown Ottawa — free parking, but only after 7 p.m. and on Sundays.
Representatives of business owners said yesterday they’ll consider a legal challenge after a city committee stepped back slightly from a proposal to extend paid downtown parking hours, but added extra fees.
Starting March 1, metered parking will be in effect between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and the city will extend paid parking areas to Wellington Street and in Beechwood and Old Ottawa South. And effective October 1, parking fees will jump to $3.25 per hour.
That was a compromise from an original proposal to extend paid parking until 9 p.m. on weekdays, collect meter fees on weekends and extend enforcement areas — but not one that many delegates at the meeting appreciated.
"This is just a colossal waste of time," said Jasna Jennings, executive director of the ByWard Market Business Improvement Area. "Nothing has changed. Why the big charade when they had no intention of changing their minds?"
Lori Mellor, executive director of the Preston Street BIA, went further, saying downtown BIAs are planning a challenge to the fee increases since the city’s 1994 parking policy calls for parking to be self-sustaining, not a moneymaker. Raising fees and expanding metered areas to generate revenue is a change to the policy, she charged. "We don’t believe they have the legal authority to change policy through the budget process," said Mellor.
Members of the public who listened to more than 40 presentations over a marathon session were angry that the committee eventually passed a motion almost identical to one Coun. Marianne Wilkinson proposed on Jan. 16, without debating the issue.
Coun. Christine Leadman also expressed anger that councilors did not seem to take public delegations seriously. "They were not here to listen. They were only here for the show," she said. "They had their own agendas coming in."
- The new rates must still be approved by city council on Feb. 13, but Coun. Leadman expects the greater proportion of rural councillors there will ensure the measures pass easily.