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Parking changes peeve Salmon Arm motorists

Changes: Shuswap Children’s Association executive director June Steward is not pleased her staff’s passes no longer can be relied upon for a parking spot in the Inner Core parking lot.  - Lachlan Labere/Observer
Changes: Shuswap Children’s Association executive director June Steward is not pleased her staff’s passes no longer can be relied upon for a parking spot in the Inner Core parking lot.
— image credit: Lachlan Labere/Observer

Frustration-levels were high around the Inner Core Parking Lot last week as monthly pass holders found the lot filled with newcomers.

Shuswap Children’s Association executive director June Stewart said that on two occasions over the past week her employees were unable to use the association’s parking passes for the Inner Core lot as all the spaces were full.

“We pay for four or five passes in the back here – have done it for years,” said Stewart. “We have one spot that’s actually designated and that one is fine. You pay extra for that, like $35 a month. But the rest are all $25-a-month passes, and twice this week we have not been able to park.”

Stewart says the sudden increase in vehicles at the Inner Core correlates with the recent changeover from free to paid parking at the city’s Hudson Avenue Parking Lot, adjacent to the Salmar Grand.

“I expect there will be a bunch of spots open up (at the Hudson lot)… I don’t think they’ve thought about the implication of people wanting to park closer to work,” said Stewart.

City bylaw officer Marcel Bedard, who also plays an advisory role on the city’s Downtown Parking Commission, concurs.

“We weren’t expecting people to move up and, when you think about it, hmm, it makes sense,” said Bedard. “If I’ve got to pay, I might as well park a block closer.”

Bedard said the issue and potential solutions will be reviewed at next month’s parking commission meeting. In the interim, the city has decided to allow Inner Core pass holders to park at the Hudson lot, while putting a freeze on the release of new monthly passes for the Inner Core.

“The city will not be issuing any new monthly passes for the Inner Core Parking Lot at this time. However, the city will renew monthly passes for those individuals or companies who currently have passes which are set to expire,” confirmed city engineering and public works director Rob Niewenhuizen via email.

Stewart, however, argues her staff should be able to park where they’ve paid to park.

“I have loads of part-time people, so they come in, first-come, first-served for the passes and they come and go, they’re visiting families and what not, so we need to be able to come and go and be able to park,” said Stewart.

Bedard says parking space allotment for the Inner Core is divided as follows: one-third for designated spots, one-third for monthly passes and one-third for hourly use.

“We may look at decreasing the monthly passes and just keep it day parking, and use the monthly passes with the theatre lot, but it’s all options that the parking commission will be discussing at their next meeting,” said Bedard.

Meanwhile, the number of vehicles parked at the Hudson lot has dropped.

“I’m going to say yesterday there were maybe 10 cars, and we just gave them warnings… said Bedard, noting drivers had not paid for parking.

Asked if the Hudson lot may revert to free parking, Bedard said he’d advise against it because the city is running out of parking. He expects Hudson too will fill up when the weather changes.

“It’s still 25 cents an hour and the pass is a good deal. And the theatre lot is going to be free for July and August, during spring break and Christmas break… so everybody will benefit from that,” said Bedard.

Salmon Arm Mayor Nancy Cooper says she’s also been hearing from the public about the recent parking changes.

“I’ve also had people stop me on the street and talk to me because they said they love their jobs downtown… but paying for parking is difficult because the wages aren’t as high as maybe they could be,” said Cooper. “It’s really a difficult one.”

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