Elimination of free evening and Sunday parking in downtown Victoria being discussed

Victoria council looking at ways to increase city revenues

Free Sunday parking in the View Street parkade and others operated by the City of Victoria may be on the chopping block.

Victorians may hold dear their ability to park downtown for free on evenings and weekends, but nothing is untouchable in an age of austerity.

“We can’t afford to have sacred cows,” said Coun. Marianne Alto.

The item came up recently during a discussion about finding new revenue sources for the city. As the city undergoes a review of its parking services this year, rates and times will be on the table.

“We need to look everywhere for potential revenue,” Alto said.

It may turn out to be a bad idea, but “we have to have the conversation,” she added.

This week, Coun. Shellie Gudgeon led a discussion with the downtown business community, which has consistently resisted reducing the times for free parking.

“I’m trying to work collaboratively to come up with solutions, because parking is broken in Victoria,” said Gudgeon, who owns a restaurant downtown. “Parking shouldn’t be a revenue source.”

On Sunday, parking stalls are being used up by employees, she said. “There’s no movement.”

While she hasn’t ruled out paid parking on this day as a solution, on the whole, she hopes to reduce parking costs.

She also wants to look at ways to encourage people to use city parkades, for which revenues were down in 2011 by $500,000.

“We want to stimulate business downtown and I don’t think the existing system is doing that,” Gudgeon said.

rholmen@vicnews.com

Did you know?

• A review of revenue sources for the City of Victoria found the city is more dependent on property taxes than most. Approximately 58 per cent of Victoria’s revenue comes from property taxes, compared to an average of 46 per cent for all other muncipalities in B.C.

• User fees in Victoria are slightly higher than provincial average, at about 32 per cent of total revenue. Where Victoria falls behind is in developer contributions, and transfers from other governments.