City hall is heading out to get more community input on expanding the resident-only parking program.
The changes would have expanded the parking restricted area around the hospital area, where there has been resident-only streets since 2012, moving it into areas to the west and east of downtown Penticton.
Planning manager Blake Laven said the changes are part of the overall parking strategy city council approved last year, which includes adding paid parking along Okanagan Lake in commercial areas. The areas earmarked for new resident-only parking, he said, were chosen as a result of neighbourhood petitions and where staff thought there would be an impact from other pay parking additions.
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Enforcement of the new zones was to begin April 1, 2017, but this week Laven, along with Tina Siebert, bylaw enforcement supervisor, recommended council vote to put the brakes on the resident-only parking portion.
“We’ve had a bit of mixed feedback, but the basis for a lot of it was the public wants more consultation,” said Siebert. Other complaints included there shouldn’t be a resident-only program in the first place, that parking is owned by all taxpayers.
Laven and Siebert said more engagement with the community is needed before going ahead with the expansion, saying city staff did not anticipate the mixed reaction and that concerns over the whole program are unresolved, not just the expansion.
“I think it is best that we do get the feedback,” said Coun. Max Picton. “I think we have all received the emails and the letters saying this was launched prematurely.”
Coun. Helena Konanz wanted to take it even further.
“I’m looking to scrap the entire resident-only parking program for a year and have us take a step back and look at it again and see how we can implement it better,” said Konanz.
Sentes said it is not only homeowners that have voiced difficulty with parking, it is the whole community.
“We are hearing from the rest of the community that is saying they shouldn’t have the right to say you can’t park on my street when their taxes have been paying for that street,” said Sentes.
Part of the resident concern may be generated by the city’s intention to start charging for the program in 2017. The city charges $15 annually for a permit — increasing to $30 in 2018 — allowing a homeowner to park a vehicle on the street.
“The first three or four years of the program have been free to those areas, but moving forward we can’t, given our fiscal position and operating challenges, we can’t continue to do it for free,” said Laven.
Picton’s first motion to accept the staff recommendation and put the expansion on hold failed to pass after a 3-3 vote, with Coun. Tarik Sayeed absent on vacation. With conflicting viewpoints, and the prospect of more tie votes, council compromised by voting to defer the matter to their Feb. 7 meeting.
Parking revenue represents a substantial cash flow for Penticton, close to $400,000 per year, with the potential for $500,000. The income from expanding resident-only parking is not expected to have a significant effect on that total, since only a few streets are involved. Other parts of the strategy are ongoing.
Efficiency is another point the city is selling some of the parking changes on, like in the commercial areas of Lakeshore Drive.
“That has to do with turning over cars so businesses can have parking for their customers and at the beaches and such, you are having proper turnover of parking,” said Laven.
Part of the new parking strategy is increasing automation, including a mobile pay system.
“People can pay by phone, just making parking a lot easier for the user,” said Tina Siebert, Bylaw Enforcement Supervisor, who noted that pay parking had been set up at the Lakawanna Park and Riverside Drive lots, “generating relatively low revenues given the time of year.”