Penticton city council is moving ahead with plans to bring pay parking to more areas of the city.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit announced last night that council had decided, during an in-camera session, to direct staff to issue a request for proposals regarding parking services.
“We are just looking for any efficiencies to be considered as part of the whole parking strategy,” said Jakubeit.
Early in January, council endorsed a new parking strategy that will see pay parking introduced along Lakeshore Drive, nearby parking lots and, eventually, Skaha Lake Park.
The RFP is being prepared, according to Jules Hall, director of development services, so specific details are not available. He said, however, that it would be wide-ranging, designed to gather as much information as possible for council’s decision-making process.
“The RFP is really seeking to explore all options in relation to parking and parking enforcement. Nothing has been determined at this time,” said Hall. It will include the possibility of contracting out all parking services to a private company, though Jakubeit said that is not a direction council has settled on.
The city is looking for cost efficiencies or reductions, he said, as well as technological improvements.
“Certainly, it doesn’t mean there is a commitment to contract out any of the services,” Jakubeit said.
The RFP also specifies separating a proposal for coin collection from full service.
“Right now, all the parking enforcement is done with our bylaw department. We have two officers that go collect the coins on a regular basis. It is potentially not the most efficient use of staff’s time,” said Hall. “It is really just to explore all potential available scenarios for the city. We are just looking at trying to get all the information we can.”
Jakubeit said they have no plans to reduce staff, but are looking at freeing up bylaw staff’s time to deal with other issues.
“The other bylaws are complaint-driven and sometimes there is a lack of resources to get to them because they are doing parking,” said Jakubeit. “If part of the parking was alleviated they could focus more on dealing with the day-to-day bylaw infractions and enforcing those.”
Hall said there is no timeline established for the RFP or its results though Jakubeit added that the city is still planning on implementing the new parking strategy along Lakeshore Drive this season.
“Right now it is just looking at the feasibility and if it even makes sense, what advances in technology can help, both for us operating or a potential new operator,” said Hall, adding that there is a capital budget available for implementing the parking strategy and possible new technology. “We would look to try and obtain that technology and understand it and have it in place at the earliest opportunity.”