Residents, retailers fear plan will drive business out of core
The city has pulled the emergency brake on plans to jack street meter rates and charge for evening and weekend parking following a public backlash.
Mounting criticism from residents and retailers convinced a city committee yesterday to delay the changes until March and order a staff report on what impact the new measures would have.
The transportation committee will receive the report on Feb. 6.
Downtown businesses, residents and community groups have argued the plan would drive business out of the core. River ward councillor Maria McRae said she’d never seen a local issue generate such strong, negative reaction before and that council needs to hear why people are so opposed.
“Obviously there is a need to examine the whole situation and take into account our current parking policies,” she said.
The proposal had called for parking meter fees to increase by 20 per cent in each of the next three years and for enforcement to be extended to evenings and weekends, effective Feb. 1.
That would cost downtown businesses tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue because people would chose to visit suburban malls where parking is free, argued Jasna Jennings, executive director of the ByWard Market BIA.
The city would be better off devoting resources to improving efficiencies within its parking operations, she said. “They spent 45 cents to collect one dollar in revenue. They bring in $27 million annually — $11 million from meters and $16 million from fines. These are big numbers and we need to take a look at them.”
Bank Street BIA executive director Gerry Lepage said postponement of the Feb. 1 deadline at least gives opponents a chance to work out a compromise with the city.
“We have to examine how (the city can) accrue those revenues without affecting the viability of business and other activities in the core area.”