June 24th, 2024

Proposed parking fine increase stalls at SPC; Council being asked to have administration do engagement on issue


By Lethbridge Herald on February 15, 2023.

The Economic Standing Policy Committee is recommending that council direct administration to work with the Downtown BRZ and the Heart of the City, after defeating a motion regarding parking fine increases. Herald photo by Ian Martens

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Don’t increase parking fines!

That message was made loud and clear to city council acting as Economic Standing Policy Committee on Wednesday afternoon by business owners and others.

And the SPC took that message to heart.

The SPC dealt with the plan to raise parking fines in the City and gave members of the public a chance to speak.

To huge applause from the audience after a lengthy discussion, the SPC unanimously defeated a resolution to recommend council next Tuesday at its regular meeting give second and third reading to a bylaw approving parking fine increases.

Instead the SPC unanimously approved another motion recommending that council direct Administration to work with the Downtown BRZ and the Heart of the City committee in their engagement with their members, presenting options on parking and that the results of such engagement be forwarded to the Economic SPC by the end of the third quarter this year.

The common theme Wednesday was increasing fees will harm downtown businesses by deterring shoppers.

With all members of council present except for mayor Blaine Hyggen, the SPC was told the downtown has suffered through COVID and the opioid crisis and raising fines will be yet another deterrent for people coming downtown.

Sarah Amies of the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone told the SPC that the BRZ consists of about 600 businesses and property owners and the possible fine increase would serve no positive good.

She said some business owners are shuttering their doors because of the opioid crisis and it’s fall-out, looking to move to safer parts of their city and to areas where parking is free.

She and others stated the parking kiosks often don’t work and people are reticent to use the Park ’n Ride facility because of safety concerns.

Levi Cox, a business owner and downtown resident, said in Zone 2 which encompasses much of downtown, people can park for two hours and then add more time to their meters once after the meters have expired. This causes stress because extra time can be added only after that time expires.

Cox said it’s a myth that downtown employees take up much of the available parking, noting that meters in the 10-hour zone are filled to capacity shortly after 9 a.m.

He added he feels “nothing but frustration with this.”

Businessman Hunter Heggie said he thought it was April 1 when he heard about the planned increase in parking fines.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Heggie said, adding the matter is opening a dialogue about issues facing the downtown core.

He said the fine increase would hurt business owners and noted that they want a “happy safe environment” to conduct business but they are being failed in a lot of ways.

Heggie said parking meters have become “a cash cow’ for the city and suggested free parking for two hours be implemented with fines being levied after that time expires.

Heggie added the purpose of a parking program isn’t revenue but to keep people moving.

“Kicking us at this time would not be beneficial,” Heggie added.

Members of the SPC asked administration about various options, including the potential to increase two-hour parking to three.

Transportation manager Darwin Juell said a possible consequence could be that people, after the first three hours expire, could fill their meter again for another three hours, therefore being able to park in the same spot for six hours.

Director of Infrastructure Joel Sanchez told the SPC the technology exists to increase the grace period from five minutes after two-hour limits expire to 15 minutes giving people extra time to get to a meter.

In response to a question from councillor Rajko Dodic, Juell said non-compliance downtown is not necessarily because people didn’t want to pay but could be because they couldn’t increase their time quick enough to avoid a ticket.

He said compliance is about 80 per cent downtown but substantially lower elsewhere, citing the hospital area as an example.

He said that lack of compliance is possibly a reason why the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College both raised their parking fines to $50 in 2019 with the same reduction the City has proposed.

Transportation engineering manager Ahmed Ali told the SPC parking fees are not a cash cow for the city but are intended to bring more people downtown, noting that the City is very accommodating when people address fines.

“This is only for people who are non-compliant,” he told the SPC.

Share this story:

30
-29
4 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Citi Zen

Sending this back to admin is a big mistake. Admin has a vested interest in increasing fines, to generate revenue and protect their jobs.

R.U.Serious

If you have send this back for more committees and more consultation then you all are FIRED!
You do not deserve to be making important decisions regarding our city if you fail to see the impacts of not just this but several other changes that will negatively impact our business community downtown.
You all need to be fired and replaced with people who listen to their community and are from this community, not someone coming in from another community that wants to make changes without knowing and understanding this community.
The same person who ruined our transit system is now trying to destroy the downtown business core!
Stop blowing money are projects like the $44 million bike path project and you won’t have to worry about making an extra $250,000 in revenue.
You are sooooo out of touch with our community!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last edited 1 year ago by R.U.Serious
Citi Zen

Yup, it is time for a witch hunt through City Hall. Too many high-paid, redundant and do-nothing positions there, all trying to justify their existance.

buckwheat

This should have been an 8-0 vote to end it. Giving administration something to play with shows the spinlessness of council not having the guts to put administration in their rightful place.