Pay parking rates along White Rock’s Marine Drive are back in the limelight, following a suggestion that the city extend its season of winter-discount rates from four months to six.
But the change – recommended this week by the city’s economic, investment and revitalization committee – is not one that should be made lightly, the city’s financial services director cautioned.
“There really should be another off-setting funding source identified for the loss of revenue that is projected if council endorses this,” Sandra Kurylo told council Monday.
Pay parking along the waterfront has long been a source of contention amongst merchants, residents and visitors alike. Merchants often blame the rates and aggressive enforcement for costing them much-needed business, particularly when the weather turns.
The city currently charges $1 per hour to park from Nov. 1 to Feb. 28. The rest of the year, the hourly charge is $3.
The rates were set in September 2010, and were expected to increase the city’s annual parking revenues by $70,000.
But if the winter rate is extended two months as suggested, Kurylo estimated it would cost the city $185,000, or “a little more than one per cent of property taxes.”
Outgoing Mayor Catherine Ferguson – who, last year, had asked council to consider starting the winter rate in October – said that while she would like to support the latest recommendation, it would be “premature and irresponsible” to do so without a clear picture of the financial impact it would have on the city.
The idea to recommend council extend the winter rate through to April 30 came up at the economic, investment and revitalization committee’s Oct. 19 meeting. According to minutes of the meeting, “it was suggested that local businesses have a different idea about the city’s interpretation of winter.”
Council this week gave unanimous support to a motion by Ferguson to have staff thoroughly analyze and report back on the financial impact of extending the winter-rate season.