January 28, 2014 - 12:51 PM
KELOWNA – For the first time in more than 20 years, the cost of parking in metered stalls in downtown Kelowna will be increased.
Council approved an updated parking strategy Monday that will take effect June 1, more than doubling the hourly rate of on-street parking from $0.50 to $1.25. Off-street parking will be increased to $1 per hour.
According to Real Estate Director Derek Edstrom, the city’s downtown parking reserve will be faced with a deficit of around $3 million by 2017 unless rates are increased. He also recommends a pay structure that encourages visitors to choose off-street parking over on-street parking.
Parking Operations Coordinator Dave Duncan says current rates are too cheap to discourage long term parking or effectively replenish parking and infrastructure funds.
“Current on-street parking rates have been in effect and unchanged for over 20 years,” he says, “and are well below market rates and the true cost of providing the service.”
Coun. Colin Basran also pointed out that it is not only the downtown area that will need parking infrastructure upgrades in the near future and questioned where the funds would come from.
“I don’t know anybody that I’ve talked to that doesn’t think we need (to upgrade), the question is how do we pay for it?” he says. “At the end of the day, I’d rather have a user-pay system than have this system put entirely on the backs of Kelowna residents.”
He says that although it has been suggested the increases happen incrementally over time, the jump is reasonable and should not be put off any longer.
“If I didn’t take my car in for a tune-up for 20 years, of course I’m going to get a big bill. With the structure that we’re talking about, we can still catch up without it being a huge deal.”
He says he is also in favour of a plan that encourages the use of public transportation.
“I’m a firm believer that parking should cost more than public transit,” he says. “We need to start getting people to think about alternatives.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014