This parking meter is the type used throughout Salmon Arm and will take only coins, not credit cards. (File photo)

This parking meter is the type used throughout Salmon Arm and will take only coins, not credit cards. (File photo)

Owner of Salmon Arm parking lots shortens leases, 84 loonies irk councillor

Owner of lots may be keeping future options open, coin-operated metres owned by city not appreciated

The leases on two downtown parking lots have been renewed, but only for a year.

The first is what’s called the Avon Parking Lot at 130 Hudson Ave. NE, where the osprey mural can be seen.

At its Dec. 12 meeting, city council agreed to staff’s recommendation to extend the lease from March 1, 2023 to Feb. 29, 2024 as a Downtown Parking Commission parking lot for an annual fee of 50 per cent of the annual revenue.

City staff told council the city has been leasing the lot since 2007. The revenue is shared 50/50 with the owner, WH Laird Holdings Ltd. Staff said principal Bill Laird has agreed to a further one-year lease.

In response to a question from council, staff said the city has had longer leases with the owner but this year he requested one year only.

A similar question arose regarding an extension of the lot at 327 Alexander St. NE, better known as the Inner Core Parking lot, that drivers typically access next to the brightly coloured Innovation Centre. Council approved a one-year extension with the same owner from Jan. 1, 2023 to Dec. 31, 2023, again as a Downtown Parking Commission parking lot for an annual fee of 50 per cent of the annual revenue.

Coun. David Gonella asked about the one-year leases and if there are any concerns the parking lots won’t be available in the near future.

Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, said Laird is leaving options open for himself.

“He might take the properties back and run them himself as parking…” Niewenhuizen said.

Read more: Parking rates in Salmon Arm set to jump to keep up with other municipalities

Coun. Kevin Flynn noted a plan was worked on 10 or 15 years ago for housing combined with parking in the Inner Core. He suggested Laird might be looking for flexibility.

Coins and a meter were the subject for a question from Coun. Sylvia Lindgren.

She said she went to a nearby meeting about a week previously and she was one of 12 people looking for coins to feed the pay parking meter.

“Between 12 of us we had to come up with 84 loonies to pay for parking that day. Which seems obscene; we were really scrambling, going from place to place looking to see where you could get coins, because there’s no other way to pay there. When you need a full-day parking and there’s 12 of you, 84 loonies is a lot.”

Niewenhuizen said the Inner Core parking lot is leased to the city from Laird, but the machine is city infrastructure. He said the city is currently looking at credit card optional pay but, at the moment, all the city’s parking meters are coin operated.

“That’s a lot of loonies,” remarked Mayor Alan Harrison.

Read more: City of Salmon Arm moves closer to credit card pay parking


martha.wickett@saobserver.net
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