February 20, 2013 - 2:02 PM
By Jennifer Stahn
A report recommending replacement of parking meter infrastructure caused a frenzy of questions and debate lasting nearly an hour at Kamloops council and now the city plans to bring the conversation back March 5 to give the public a chance to weigh in.
Community safety and enforcement manager Jon Wilson introduced his report simply as information, but after the heated session, council chose to accept it. It recommends new technology to replace the 850 old, failing meters currently located in the downtown area.
Wilson noted current meters should have a life cycle of five years, but many are close to 20 years old resulting in higher maintenance caused by calibration and failing mechanisms. He recommended doubling rates in the first year, which have been sitting at 50 cents per hour for nearly two decades, with subsequent increases planned for 2015 and 2018.
Wilson said there was a lot of positive feedback from the business community on proposed changes which includes higher parking rates and the option to purchase more parking hours because they present a tangible way to save for a fund that would aid parking downtown. And the fund could go toward traffic solutions, parking, transit or bike paths.
The $1.7 million proposal includes 90 pay-by-license-plate stations that would allow the city to implement multiple rate structures, such as express stalls as well as the ability to pay fines at the boxes. Handheld units could be used by city by-law officers to patrol parking and the ability to go paperless is also an option, he said. Users would have multiple options for payment and would be able to park at any of the street parking stalls downtown and at multiple locations during the time they paid for.
Nearly every council member weighed in on whether the fund should be renamed and what it should specifically be for. Some said too many people would assume the fund was for a parkade and would rather see it used for things like bike paths while others wanted to see it used for a parkade to help alleviate the pressure currently on the downtown core. Coun. Tina. Lange said downtown business owners are willing to “inconvenience our customers by doubling the amount to park” so costs of a new parkade can be offset.
Coun. Marg Spina asking if the city would be better off just raising the rates on the current meters for now and saving the revenue for a few years before moving to the newer technology, and then maybe only a block or two at a time. Spina said she “feels very uncomfortable...taking on debt” and thinks it's “more economically feasible to save for what we need.” Other council members were more concerned about the rate increase and how it ties in to transit rates in the city, as Wilson had said several times that they were trying to keeping parking rates higher than taking the bus.
A public input session will be held to discuss on-street parking solutions Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the Interior Savings Centre Parkside Lounge at 7 p.m. Lorne Street and 1st Avenue upgrades will also be discussed.
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Digging for change to feed the meter could soon be a thing of the past if council approves replacing the old meters with newer technology in downtown Kamloops.
(JENNIFER STAHN /InfoTel Multimedia)
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013