A thief or thieves, looking for coins, vandalized three parking stations in Salmon Arm in the first week of June 2020, whose replacement will cost an estimated $25,000 total. (City of Salmon Arm image)

Parking in downtown Salmon Arm moving to two hours except for one street

Pay stations vandalized, council discusses plan for adopting credit card payments

Two-hour parking will soon be in effect in Salmon Arm’s downtown, except for one street.

At city council’s June 22 meeting, council took a stand on the long-discussed and controversial issue of whether parking downtown should be for one or two hours. Only Alexander Street will remain one-hour.

Coun. Tim Lavery was alone in voting against the decision, but on the principle of procedure, not on content. He wanted to take time to gather more input.

The decision came from a recommendation from the city’s downtown parking commission, with the reasoning that, during the coronavirus pandemic, it would assist with the economic recovery of downtown. Leaving parking as one-hour on Alexander was intended to accommodate banks and retail on the street.

The city’s director of public works and engineering, Rob Niewenhiuzen, said on June 23 that staff will be changing signage downtown and the two-hour parking should be in effect within two weeks.

Read more: Street parking in downtown Salmon Arm: Should it be limited to one hour or two?

Read more: Salmon Arm parking meters take a beating

The other issue that returned for discussion was the vandalizing of parking stations in the search for coins, and the need to go to a credit card/debit card system.

During the first week of June, three pay stations were vandalized, with an approximate total replacement cost of $25,000.

This came after the destruction of more than 100 coin-operated meters between August 2019 and February 2020. At that time it was decided to move forward with acquiring parking stations with the capacity to accommodate credit cards.

In the meantime, those newer parking stations still take coins, although they are more difficult to vandalize.

The biggest obstacle, council was told, is that the city’s accounting system does not take credit or debit cards. No types of payment, including those for parking, can be made to the city with cards.

Read more: Projected cost of Salmon Arm’s Ross Street underpass goes up by $3.5 million

Read more: New parking stations coming for Salmon Arm but they will still take coins

Coun. Chad Eliason, the city’s rep on the parking commission, said the commission is pushing for parking payment by credit card, phone and/or Interac and wants to see it fast-tracked to 2021.

He suggested that the finance department prepare a report prior to the 2021 budget to tell council what will be needed to take the next step.

Council voted unanimously in support, with Coun. Kevin Flynn stepping out due to conflict of interest guidelines.

Eliason also reiterated the commission’s disappointment with council’s decision to take $1.57 million from the general parking lot reserve earmarked for the downtown parkade to pay for cost increases projected for the Ross Street underpass.

“To be quite frank, having the funds going to the underpass has thrown the committee for a bit of a loop.”

Members of the parking commission are: council rep Chad Eliason; members at large Regan Ready, Bill Laird, Vic Hamilton and Cathy Ingebrigston; and Downtown Salmon Arm reps Jacquie Gaudreau, June Stewart, Linda Thompson and Gerald Forman. Forman was absent from the June 16 meeting. Also attending as resource people are city staff members Rob Niewenhuizen, Jenn Wilson, Kevin Pearson and Marcel Bedard.

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This is the interior of one of three parking stations destroyed in the first week of June 2020 in Salmon Arm. (City of Salmon Arm image)

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