Downtown parking debate goes on
If you ask employees at downtown businesses what they think of a plan that could see parking-meter fees double in the city core, there’s a good chance you’ll get looks of confusion in return.
At an August workshop, Kamloops city council agreed to take a serious look at a number of downtown-parking proposals from the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association.
Changes could include replacing current meters with credit card-friendly pay stations and hiking fees from $0.50 per hour to $1 on most streets and $1.50 on Victoria Street.
A full debate on the changes is expected in October.
In conversation with a number of business owners and employees, KTW found little support for the change — and plenty of confusion.
“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” said Shannon Ramunno, owner of The Ruby Room on Victoria Street. “And, I read the paper all the time.”
It wasn’t an uncommon reaction. Other owners said they’d heard “rumours” of the plan, but not the specifics.
Ramunno called the change a “terrible idea,” and said her store already loses customers whose meters run out while they’re in the midst of shopping.
At High Octane Comics and Collectibles on Third Avenue, Nick Klie said the move will hurt the shop’s business.
“I understand the problem, but it’s not the solution,” he said.
“The biggest complaint I’ve heard from our customers is there’s not enough parking and it’s too expensive.”
Corrine Serink, owner of Ardeo Salon on Fourth Avenue, agrees.
“It would just discourage the shoppers from spending time and money downtown,” she said.
“Any increase could be seen as a deterrent,” added Ernie Ware of Fudge Yeah.
He also hadn’t heard about the meter increase before talking with KTW.
Not everyone in the core expects the change to hurt their operations, however.
Remax realtor Kristy Janota said her workplace likely won’t be affected — the Seymour Street office is next to a parkade — but, as a shopper, she isn’t a fan.
If fees go up, she said, short-term parking options need to be part of the plan. (Council has discussed putting 30-minute express stalls on some blocks of Victoria St.)
“If I had to put in a dollar just to run in for 10 minutes, I wouldn’t be impressed,” she said.
Angelo Carusi, owner of Total Ten Studios, said parking downtown is so cheap, compared to other cities, that the hike shouldn’t make a difference.
“A dollar isn’t that bad,” he said.
“In any other city, you’d pay that. So, downtown, I don’t think it’s going to make a difference.”
At the Noble Pig Brewhouse, master brewer David Beardsell said he gets more complaints about increased ticketing by bylaw-enforcement officers than about the cost of parking.
“My guts is that no, it’s not going to effect us,” he said.
“I think it’s just the city growing up — and that’s the reality.”