Claim meter decision was ‘pre-arranged’

The backlash against a proposal to hike parking fees sparked finger pointing yesterday, with some councillors saying their colleagues had made a mockery of the public delegation process.



Councillors representing downtown wards hit by the changes have accused rural and suburban councillors of pre-deciding the issue, with no chance for a long list of public delegations to influence the outcome of this week’s transportation meeting that actually hiked meter fees higher than originally proposed.



"It’s hard to believe that after inviting people to come and make their presentation that at the end of the day we would actually increase the problem," Coun. Georges Bédard (Rideau-Vanier) said yesterday.

After hearing from 47 delegations over seven hours, the committee approved a motion that rescinded paid parking on Sundays and evenings after 7 p.m., but expanded enforcement areas and bumped hourly meter fees to $3 on March 1 and to $3.25 on Oct. 1.

After losing the battle for free parking on Saturday, Coun. Diane Holmes (Somerset) said she and other downtown councillors had to accept the compromise, or see no reduction in paid parking times at all. She noted the motion could still be amended at council.

But she too saw a plot in the outcome: "It’s evident that six councillors had a pre-arranged agreement."

Bédard said downtown councillors must now work to convince their colleagues of what’s at stake.

"They seem intent to drain as much tax revenue from the centre of the city as possible. But you can only take so much before those areas start failing, and I’m afraid that’s what’s going to start happening to the downtown. It’s going to die."

But Coun. Doug Thompson (Osgoode) called it unfair to portray the outcome as a rural versus urban struggle, since he was the only truly rural councillor to vote at committee. "We did listen," he said. "Just because they didn’t get what they wanted they’re saying we didn’t listen."

BIA backlash?

  • Lori Mellor, executive director of the Preston Business Improvement Area, said stakeholders would meet today about moving forward with a legal challenge to the measures.