A motion to offer free parking along Marine Drive passed third reading in a unanimous vote on Monday. If the motion passes final reading, drivers will be able to park along the waterfront at no charge during February and March. In addition, changes to pay parking hours on streets near the hospital would take effect Feb. 1. (File photo)

White Rock council driving at two months of free waterfront parking

Bylaw change would also suspend after-midnight meter fees near hospital

White Rock council has given preliminary approval to suspending pay parking fees on the waterfront for a two month period, as well as removing street pay parking adjacent to Peace Arch Hospital after midnight.

If given final approval at the Jan. 28 council meeting, an amendment to the city’s fees and charges bylaw would allow for free waterfront parking in February and March, while changes to parking around the hospital would come into effect Feb. 1.

First three readings were passed unanimously by council at Monday night’s meeting

Parking task force chair Coun. Christopher Trevelyan said council’s original focus had been on putting in a $4 per day flat rate at the Montecito parking garage, but this had changed since the Dec. 20 windstorm that damaged the pier and promenade.

“Given the storm and the effects and the real struggles on the waterfront, we decided to get rid of that and change this quite a bit to propose free parking for two months on the waterfront, with the ability for council to add to that if it sees fit,” he said.

Coun. David Chesney suggested the further amendment that would make street meter parking in the vicinity of Peace Arch Hospital free between midnight and 10 a.m.

“People who are there after midnight are there because of some emergency in their life, and they don’t have time to be running out to the parking meter,” Chesney said.

The latter change, if approved, would not apply to the off-street parking lots at the hospital, which are controlled by Fraser Health and the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation.

Financial services director Sandra Kurylo reminded council that such changes would have an impact on city finances.

“It’s recommended that, once this bylaw is adopted, that there be another motion passed recommending that staff come forward with a recommended funding source (to address the shortfall) during the upcoming financial plan period,” she said. That suggestion was included in the bylaw amendment.

Coun. Helen Fathers said that, while she supported helping business owners on the waterfront, she does not want a parking amnesty to result in an increase in property taxes.

Mayor Darryl Walker said in November that White Rock is unlikely to follow Surrey’s lead in asking either Fraser Health or the PAHF to relinquish its revenue from hospital parking lots.

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