Parking fines in Salmon Arm are going up to try to keep people who work downtown from parking on the street but instead in city parking lots.
Leaving street parking available for customers of downtown businesses has long been a concern for business owners. An unintended consequence of raising parking rates in July 2022 was to send people out of the parking lots and onto the street, city council heard at its June 12 meeting.
A report prepared by city staff noted the city’s Downtown Parking Commission (DPC) recommended increasing the fines to remedy the move out of the Inner Core parking lot, in particular, which is situated behind the brightly coloured Innovation Centre downtown.
“Since the implementation of the parking fee increase it seems the use of the Inner Core parking lot has declined substantially. It is suspected that some of the inner core users may now be parking on the street for extended periods of time, which is causing some problem for the downtown merchants who need those parking spaces for customers. It is also apparent that the $10.00 penalty if paid within two days is so low that there is no incentive to pay for parking on an hourly basis,” reads the report.
Council agreed to increase the penalty from $35, which is reduced to $10 if paid within two days, to $50, which will be reduced to $25 if paid within two days.
On-street parking is $1 per hour.
Coun. Tim Lavery pointed out that the DPC, which recommended the increase, is composed mainly of representatives of Downtown Salmon Arm and citizens at large with strong connections to downtown. They have been noticing the issue and recommended the increase.
He said he, too, has noticed “the city shuffle.”
“If you’re sitting out and having coffee on a patio, you’ll see the city shuffle as unnamed employees start moving their cars around to beat this. I would suggest this (the fine increase) is one tool for freeing up parking spots and there’s no doubt the issue of having regular enforcement of the ticketing as well will help.”
Coun. Sylvia Lindgren spoke about the difficulty of carrying around loonies to put in the coin-operated parking meters and asked when the credit card and debit card option is coming.
Chelsea Van de Cappelle, the city’s chief financial officer, said she expects to bring a report to council’s next meeting which will move forward an agreement with a payment processor.
“There were some back-end delays with the release of some of the technology and some capacity issues internally…,” she said, but it now looks possible to move forward.
When rates for the Hudson Avenue NW (Salmar) parking lot, the Inner Core NE parking lot, the Avon NE parking lot (on Hudson next to the osprey mural), the 4th Street NE parking lot and the Firehall No. 3 parking lot were increased they went from $25 plus GST per stall per month to $50, and $35 per month for a personalized parking stall to $60.
The Ross Street parking lot offers free two-hour parking and then fines come into effect. Parking at the Marine Park lot is $1 per hour.
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