PARKING FINE INCREASES "PUT ON HOLD"
There was a lot of noise at the end of January about City Hall doubling parking fines from $25 to $50 in the downtown. This created a bit of a storm on social media and in the news with many people outraged with the proposal. NEBA's position is that it is very premature to consider increasing fines and such a move would have a negative impact on attracting people to the urban core. The city is looking at installing new parking payment technologies in the next couple of years which will help reduce harsh parking fine penalties for people who run a few minutes overtime, as well as resolve some of the abuses of the short-term parking by “all day parkers”. We have also been waiting a long time for the implementation of the Parking Strategy, which is set to begin public consolation in April and May. Discussion or consideration of parking fine increases should wait until the parking strategy is complete and the new parking technologies are installed. As well, the downtown and urban core already feel under seize from construction, empty store-fronts, sky-high commercial taxes, and potential loss of on-street parking from protected bike lanes and transit priority measures. While the City Hall's sentiment of wanting to address business concerns about parking is a good one, doubling fines is not the right tactic, particularly at this time when we are already dealing with a number of challenges. If the purpose of this proposal was to get “all-day parkers” abusing the short-term parking into existing parking lots/structures and off the streets — there was no clear articulation on how this would help the North End. Where are people suppose to go? Gottingen has no official public parking structures or lots. There is one private pay-for-parking lot on Agricola, and slowly more businesses are encouraging their employees to park there — which is great — until that lot gets developed one day. Increasing fines will not help business — only discourage and penalize the customers businesses rely on. People will choose to go elsewhere because they do not want to risk a $50 fine. One $50 parking ticket is enough to drive anyone away (no pun intended.) It sends the message “don’t come downtown”, when we should be trying to make the downtown a more welcoming and fun experience. Thanks to all the people who submitted letters to council and shared their thoughts with us. While NEBA always tries to do its best to advocate on behalf of its membership, sometimes, like in this case, it is also very important that council hears directly from you. We were very pleased by the surprise motion made by Mayor Savage to stop the proposed changes. It was the right move. Here are links to articles on the subject.