Parking fees in downtown Victoria could go back up as spaces become harder to find

乐橙官网平台 Motorists could start paying more to park downtown next month as Victoria ponders a return to pre-COVID-19 rates in some areas.

A report going to city councillors on Thursday recommends reinstating regular hourly parking fees at on-street meters as well as at the Yates Street and Centennial Square parkades as of Aug. 4.

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乐橙官网平台 Council cut parking rates in April and stopped enforcing time limits — except in 30-minute zones — to help essential workers early on and, later, to help businesses hard hit by the pandemic.

The cost of parking at 90-minute metered spaces in the core area initially dropped to $1 an hour from $3. The rate was increased to $2 an hour last month due to increased use and will return to $3 if councillors approve staff recommendations at committee of the whole.

Susanne Thompson, deputy city manager, said there’s been a steady increase in the use of parking spaces as people returned to downtown in recent weeks. On-street parking is extremely busy, particularly at the 90-minute meters in the core area, she said.

乐橙官网平台 Ideally, the city aims for 85 per cent occupancy, which means you should be able to find one empty spot per block at any time.

“Obviously, that varies,” she said. “If you’re right bang downtown, you usually have to circle for quite some time before you find a spot, but, in general, that is what 85 per cent occupancy means.

“Businesses, of course, like turnover on the street for their customers, so that’s sort of that magic number we go for.”

Right now, however, parking volumes are higher than last year in some places and it’s next to impossible to find a metered space, so staff are recommending reinstating the regular rate to spur turnover.

乐橙官网平台 As well, staff are recommending a return to enforcement of time-limited zones, such as the one- and two-hour street parking locations outside the core.

乐橙官网平台 “Where we have businesses in those areas, they are now phoning and complaining that there is no turnover at all, which probably means that it’s not their customers parking,” Thompson said. “It is going to be those working downtown who are taking advantage of … the free spaces that are not monitored right now.”

The city’s parkades, meanwhile, are operating at about 55 per cent of last year’s volume overall. The Yates and Centennial locations, however, are busier than others, which is why staff are recommending a return to regular hourly rates there.

乐橙官网平台 If the recommendations are approved, motorists will park free at those two locations for the first hour. Instead of paying $1 an hour for the remainder of their stay, they will pay $2 an hour for the second and third hours, and $3 an hour after that. The daily maximum will increase to $14.50 from $9.

City staff recommend that the reduced rate of $1 an hour remains in place at the still under-used Broughton Street, View Street and Johnson Street parkades.

The city was losing about $1.2 million a month in parking revenue in March and April. Thompson said those numbers have improved, and more details will be provided as part of a budget update to council next month.

Bruce Williams, chief executive officer of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, said the staff recommendations make sense in light of the city’s revenue losses and the resumption of economic activity downtown.

“It’s a sign of going back to what it used to be, in a way,” he said. “It’s a bit back to normalcy. I don’t think it’s out of the question for them to be charging for parking. A lot of the parking when it is reduced like that is not being used by shoppers — it’s being used by workers.”

乐橙官网平台 Mayor Lisa Helps said the proposed increases are less about restoring city revenue than assisting business with their recovery by increasing turnover so that more customers have places to park.

“We don’t want to gouge people for parking and not have people come,” she said. “Really, this is in lockstep with what we’re seeing in terms of economic recovery in our downtown and businesses. So I think it’s a good sign.”

lkines@nyanessb.com

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