Free Saturday downtown parking to continue
The Pembroke Business Improvement Area has embarked on a new pilot project that sees some downtown parking meters sponsored by Pembroke businesses allowing customers to park there for free for up to three hours.
Free Saturday downtown parking at meters is back, and will be continuing throughout this year.
Pembroke council approved the recommendation of its planning and development committee to continue permitting on Saturdays free two-hour parking at downtown parking meters until the end of the year. Then the practice will be evaluated to see if it could become permanent.
Colleen Sauriol, planning and building department manager, said at the recommendation of the Parking Authority, Pembroke council passed a bylaw last year which allowed for two hour free parking at the meters on Saturdays for a four month trial period from June 1 to October 1, 2017.
Saturday bylaw enforcement was upheld to ensure there was no abuse of parking at the meters. Parking meter enforcement in general including Saturdays provides a control measure which would be diminished if enforcement was reduced.
There were worries that removing Saturday enforcement would allow tenants, business owners and staff to park at the meters instead of customers. By providing Saturday enforcement this would ensure there is no abuse of parking at the meters.
Sauriol told the planning and development committee Tuesday that since the trial period is now over, it was time for council to make a decision about whether to continue the practice or not, and whether to maintain Saturday bylaw enforcement or not.
“If two-hour free parking at the meters was to continue all year, there would be an annual loss of revenue in the area of $7,400,” she said.
“At the Dec. 13, 2017 Parking Authority Committee meeting, the PBIA indicated they would like free Saturday parking at the meters to continue as well,” Sauriol said, adding the Pembroke Business Improvement Area stated they would be willing to pay for half the estimated revenue losses up to the amount of $3,700 for 2018.
After the year is completed, the PBIA will revisit the program and its monetary contribution with the appropriate city committee.
The motion to do this passed unanimously.
Coun. Christine Reavie said free parking is always done at the malls, so why not in the downtown. She also stated this should be done along with Saturday bylaw enforcement.
Mayor Michael LeMay said this move will prove valuable in attracting visitors to the downtown core during the busiest shopping day.
Deputy Mayor Ron Gervais said he also backed this, especially with the bylaw enforcement, which is needed to ensure the two hour limits aren't abused.
Coun. Andrew Plummer backed the motion and the idea of free Saturday parking, but wondered if the bylaw enforcement officer needed to work a full seven hour shift. He said cutting back his hours could be another way to cover the loss of meter revenue rather than expect the downtown business community to kick in to cover it.
Sauriol said the bylaw officer doesn't just cover parking, but all city bylaws, like property standards, watering restrictions, and the like. Plummer replied he still didn't see why an officer would need an entire shift to do that on a Saturday.
“There are many ways to save money,” he said, suggesting council examine them all to see if there are other ways to cover the loss in meter revenues.