Parking rate hike could build parkade
Pop some quarters in a parking meter and the cash supports a variety of city programs.
But, if the city adopts a slate of new parking measures, more quarters it wants to add to the charge could go directly toward a parkade.
City council got its first look at a plan to modernize parking in the downtown that swaps parking meters for digital pay stations and raises rates for the first time in 18 years.
The plan is supported by downtown merchants and was originally pitched by the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association — but it comes with a condition.
New revenue from the meter hike — up to $1 an hour from 50 cents as soon as the pay hubs arrive and rising to $1.50 by 2018 — must go into a reserve for parking improvements in the downtown.
That has some councillors concerned.
“I already hear it out there that there’s a big concern that people who live in Aberdeen or North Shore and they go downtown and pay for parking, all that money is going to stay downtown,” said Coun. Nelly Dever.
She thinks the reserve should also fund improvements that could take the pressure off the downtown, such as upgrading the Rivers Trail or running a shopping shuttle from Sahali.
Councillors also quibbled over the naming of the fund, with Nancy Bepple suggesting the “transportation infrastructure fund,” which doesn’t tie it directly to projects downtown.
Mayor Peter Milobar said the downtown business community wants the fund set up so a parkade gets built.
“Let’s not kid ourselves. They’re not hoping this creates more bike paths somewhere else in the city,” he said.
With the high cost of such a structure, Milobar said he doesn’t expect a future council would have a lot of extra cash to throw at other projects, should it commit to a parkade. But, council could leave the directions for the fund open, rather than committing to a specific type of project.
Pat Wallace said council needs to be clear about where the extra parking cash is going and, in her opinion, it needs to fund a parkade.
The public will get a chance to weigh in on the proposals on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Interior Savings Centre.
Council will make a decision on the plans in March.