Downtown parking trial comes to an end

City council voted against a recommendation by the Downtown Parking Commission to expand the two-hour parking trial to the entire downtown.

The city’s two-hour parking trial for the downtown will end where it began, on Hudson Avenue.

Following a 20-minute discussion, city council voted against a recommendation by the Downtown Parking Commission to expand the two-hour parking trial on Hudson – slated to end April 25 – to the entire downtown area until March 31, 2015.

In July, council supported a request from the parking commission, initiated by Downtown Salmon Arm, to extend the allowable parking time along Hudson, between Shuswap and Alexander streets, from one to two hours for a six-month period.

The trial was subsequently extended by four months. In that time, the city received petitions opposing the trial, as well as Downtown Salmon Arm’s public parking survey, which painted a positive picture of the trial and supported the notion of expanding it to the entire downtown.

Coun. Denise Reimer, who sits on the commission (but did not vote as a member to expand the parking trial), told council Monday that although the survey was admirable, she believes a more comprehensive study is needed.

“I’d like to see that done prior to us making any sweeping changes, particularly one that will last a full year”  said Reimer. “I’m just not willing to take that risk because the bottom line for businesses – it’s their income. At this point I’m not prepared to do that.”

Coun. Debbie Cannon, who represents council on Downtown Salmon Arm, also said she couldn’t support the trial expansion, explaining she’d heard plenty of opposition.

“One-hour parking is sufficient, and I don’t support doing a trial or looking at changing it in the future,” said Cannon.

Coun. Alan Harrison noted the parking commission’s vote was 5-2 in support of the expanded trial.

“I think that vote reflects a concern that the retailers in the downtown are worried. They’re worried that a change in two-hour parking would negatively affect their business,” said Harrison.

City bylaw officer Marcel Bedard told council there are currently 240 one-hour parking spots downtown and, without the trial, 200 two-hour spots, in addition to paid parking.

Coun. Chad Eliason said this was a good mix of parking options and he didn’t want to change it.

“I think we have a good balance right now,” said Eliason. “I’m not saying it’s perfect.”