A plan to introduce permit-only parking along certain streets in downtown Halifax was shot down at last night’s regular Halifax regional council meeting.

The proposal would have replaced around 300 metered parking spaces in areas surrounding Citadel High School and the Halifax Commons with permit-only spaces that individual commuters could “rent” for between $30 and $40 a month.

Staff predicted the project could generate around $100,000 a year in revenue for the municipality, to be invested in “new projects and programs that make alternative means of commuting such as walking, bicycling and transit more attractive.”

That reasoning didn’t sit well with several councillors.

“Staff is putting the cart before the horse,” argued Coun. Mary Wile. “You don’t have the bus service (in outlying areas). If they had it out there, they would take the buses rather than parking their vehicles downtown. Metro Transit is working on it, but it’s going to take a couple of years.”

Councillors also complained that neither local businesses nor area residents were ever consulted about the proposed parking permits. Others said offering up a limited number of permits would create a lottery system that would be inherently unfair.

But Coun. Jennifer Watts threw her support behind the proposal, saying if HRM wants to encourage sustainable transportation, it’s got to start somewhere.

“This is going to free up some revenue for us to invest in sustainable forms of transportation,” she said. “This is a step forward ... and if we’re finding it’s not working, then we can look at changing it.”

Ultimately, her argument wasn’t enough to convince most councillors of the merits of the proposal. After nearly two hours of debate, council voted it down 13 to 10.

Deferred

Councillors were scheduled to discuss Metro Transit’s five-year transit plan yesterday afternoon, but the matter was deferred until the next committee of the whole meeting.