White Rock council has given a thumbs-up to proposed new parking rates for the city’s waterfront.
The rates – $3.75 per hour in ‘High Demand’ zones and $3.25 per hour in ‘Value Rate’ zones (west of Oxford Street) from April to September; and free Monday to Friday from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31 – received final reading at Monday’s council meeting, with Couns. Helen Fathers and David Chesney opposed and Coun. Erika Johanson absent.
(A June 25 Peace Arch News story about the proposed new rates incorrectly stated the months that free weekday parking would be in effect during the winter.)
The decision followed discussion that included a projection from the city manager that the new rates would lead to a budget shortfall “in the neighbourhood of $400,000-plus.”
It’s “a heads-up for council,” said Dan Bottrill.
“From my perspective, if I’m close, we should be entertaining an amendment to the financial plan to be sure we’re not running a deficit. We’re not entitled to run a deficit, so we’ll most likely be using some reserve funds to support the budget.”
Fathers – noting she had been absent from previous discussion on the matter – questioned the rationale of the value rate, the impact of a July increase to the TransLink tax and why the across-the-board $4 per hour rate hadn’t been supported.
Regarding the latter point, parking task force chair Coun. Christopher Trevelyan said the majority of businesses he spoke with opposed it, but 68 per cent “said they’d be OK” with the $3.75.
“Our concern is that the waterfront… is slowly coming back, and to put a large pay increase at this time, psychological and in reality, may not be the right increase at this moment in time,” he said.
Fathers also questioned if any thought had been given to not having parking on Marine Drive.
However, Bottrill said the move would create a need to find roughly $2.2 million to cover “unavoidable” costs. It would translate to “roughly a 10 per cent increase in (property) taxes,” he said.
“If you don’t want to charge a fee, you can charge your property owners here, but I would suggest to you that probably isn’t something you’d really want to do.”
The new fees – including ‘shoulder’ rates in October, February and March – take effect immediately.