A busy night at Council last night – I’ll be on Tom McConnell’s show at 12:05 today to chat about it – but I wanted to address the big downtown issue that came up last night. Staff brought a long-awaited report about downtown parking to last night’s meeting, and scheduled a public meeting on the issue. The following were the staff recommendations:
Reduce the on-street maximum parking time limit from 3 hours to 2 hours, except for those patrons who are Accessible Permit Holders, which will remain at 3 hours;
Extend weeknight paid parking hours at the on-street meters, the Garden Park surface lot and the Westchester surface lot from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm;
Introduce Saturday paid parking at the on-street meters from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm;
Update the Rates and Fees to increase the hourly rates at the on-street meters, surface lots and parking garages to $1.75 per hour in 2019;
Update the Rates and Fees to increase the monthly surface parking lot permits to $82.50, $71.50 and $55.00 for the Monthly Parking Lot Pass A, B and C respectively.
These recommendations were not accepted by Council, and will not be implemented. I asked staff to take the report back and do proper consultations with businesses, residents and downtown stakeholders. The reality is this – downtown St. Catharines has undergone an unprecedented number of changes in the last decade; businesses have put up with very high levels of construction and have borne the brunt of the difficulties as we transformed our downtown. As we now emerge at the end of this transition period, and business has an opportunity to see better days ahead, now is not the time to create disincentives to people to explore the new downtown. Staff will come back in 2019 with a series of recommendations to help improve the business climate while also ensuring as much Parking as is possible is available to the residents of St. Catharines and visitors to the area. One item I will look to implement in the downtown is one hour free parking for users of the City’s Honkmobile parking app, along with a fuller rollout of the app to encompass the entirety of the city’s on-street and lot parking areas. If you have suggestions/concerns/comments regarding the parking situation in downtown (or anywhere else in the City) please feel free to email me at email@example.com; I will forward all comments on to the staff working on the new report.