June 16th, 2024

Parking fine increases back in the spotlight at SPC meeting


By Lethbridge Herald on February 15, 2023.

Al Beeber

Lethbridge Herald

Lethbridge city council today, acting as Economic Standing Policy Committee, will address an approved budget item calling for increased parking fines.

The SPC meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. in council chambers.

City council at its last meeting delayed raising penalties for fines so the public could have input into the matter.

Downtown businesses who recently spoke to The Herald have expressed opposition to the plan which was approved last November in budget deliberations as Initiative C-6.

City council is considering amending a traffic bylaw that would increase parking fines to $50 from $25, minus the $15 reduction if paid within seven days.

 According to a report to council submitted by Traffic Engineering and Planning Manager Ahmed Ali, lower parking fines aren’t a meaningful deterrent to infractions while increasing them will result in increased compliance and also an increase in parking revenue without the City implementing a parking rate increase. The present fine structure was set in 1990. While fines will increase if the bylaw is passed, parking rates themselves won’t be increasing.

The City says both the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College revised their parking fines to $50 in 2019.

Businesses say they’re still trying to recover from COVID and shoppers have said the fines are a deterrent to coming downtown.

Lethbridge parking fines are among the lowest in comparable municipalities. 

“A responsive and efficient parking enforcement program is essential to provide equal opportunity for parking for both residents and businesses,” says the City.

There are 1,920 downtown parking stalls while Residential Parking Permit zones encompass 68 city blocks and about 2,300 parking spaces.

In a Jan. 27 letter to mayor and council which is part of today’s agenda package, Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone chair Lance Gilchrist says reaction among “downtown members to the planned bylaw amendment has overwhelmingly been that of dismay and frustration.

“Prior to this matter coming to council, complaints about the current parking strategy in the downtown came in only second to protests about the opioid crisis and its deleterious effects on the prosperity and safety of our downtown,” wrote Gilchrist.

“As we look to a looming economic slowdown, many feel that the doubling of parking fines will further reduce interest in visiting, shopping, recreating and doing business in the downtown core. We believe that the alignment of the proposed amendment to the promotion of Lethbridge as a vibrant cultural hub will have the opposite effect on the downtown,” he added.

In his letter, Gilchrist asked council to look at other means of generating revenue.

“Rather than effecting further punitive measures in the downtown, perhaps the city could look at charging for on-the-street parking in other commercial areas of the city,” he added, saying the BRZ will work with members to encourage staff parking in Zone 10 areas and the Park and Ride facility instead of outside their places of employment.

Amanda Jensen, executive director of Volunteer Lethbridge, stated in her own letter  staff of that organization park in the Varzari lot beside Osho’s restaurant and a number “are not comfortable parking there and walking that alley to the Penny Building,”  where the organization is located.

She added that the organization is also concerned about the impact on visits to Volunteer Lethbridge.

Danielle D’Eon-Ford, operator of a business on 6 St. S. said in a letter that the past five years have been “particularly rough for all businesses on my street and downtown” and it was disheartening to see council want to raise parking fines  which she said “will make even less people come downtown.”

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R.U.Serious

The brains who came up with the increase parking fines, the lane reduction of 3rd avenue, the revitalization without ridding the streets of the addicts all need to be FIRED!!!!
Get rid of them! They all impact the downtown business core negatively and if they can’t see the impacts, they are fired!!!! Our tax dollars are to pay for people to make decisions to benefit us, not for them to reign over us as dictators and force bad ideas on us! We are fed up after the drug injection site was pushed on us, killing our business, then COVID and now several BAD decisions that will only destroy our businesses! You want to save money stop spending money on useless projects to attract people who will not come downtown with or without them because the main reason, the addicts are still there.
We need a house cleaning in this city administration NOW!

Sheran.

It appears that many business owners have the same concerns when discussing this: Parking close to their business for the safety of their employees and customers.
Why? The drug addicts’ criminal behavior. Who is obligated to enforce the laws designed to safeguard citizens? What justifies their continued destructive and anti-social behavior with impunity? Why has this city allowed this issue to destroy the peace and security of this community?
Look around! Most of us would be fined or in jail if we acted in the same manner!