The City of Charlottetown is reporting a $2.2-million shortfall in parking revenue largely due to the impact from the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic shutdown earlier this year.
Coun. Mike Duffy, a member of council’s standing committee in finance, said that is the big reason parking and parkade rates were set to increase on Oct. 1.
Downtown Charlottetown Inc. (DCI) and the Greater Area Chamber of Commerce denounced the news, so the city has delayed implementing the increase until at least Oct. 31. Both groups are in discussions with the city over the rates, and it will be up to council to make the final call.
A meeting was held in April to discuss delaying the rate increases, which had been part of the 2020-21 budget. Those present were representatives from the chamber and DCI, as well as Mayor Philip Brown and Peter Kelly, the city’s chief administrative officer.
However, Duffy said the finance committee wasn’t invited to the meeting and was not notified about it until Sept. 16.
Still, despite the objections from the chamber and DCI, Duffy doesn’t believe a rate increase would be a problem.
“The price of parking in the downtown has never been a deterrent, at least not to the people that I speak to," Duffy said. “The deterrent has been that people can never find a place to park downtown. Removing the fee altogether doesn’t free up parking spaces; in fact, it fills them up faster because there is no fee to regulate the use."
Duffy said the fact DCI and the chamber are fighting the increase boils down to the fact “they’re not in synch with each other".
He added that the city has to do something to combat the people who work downtown who feed the meters all day, thus preventing shoppers from finding a spot.
In addition, the city just spent $3.3 million on renovating and enlarging the Fitzroy Parkade and is dealing with the fact that usage in all three of its parkades has dropped 20 per cent this year. In a normal year, the city would pull in more than $1 million from parking meter revenue to help offset the costs of capital projects.
The city is also looking at a $6-million bill to renovate the Queen Parkade or about $11 million to replace it with a new structure.
Duffy said the city can’t afford to start April 1, 2021, with a deficit, and $2.2 million must be found by March 31, 2021.
Duffy said the options going forward are to continue with the budgetary plan to increase parking rates, raise taxes or cut services, including potential layoffs.
Need to know
The following information on parking in downtown Charlottetown was submitted by the city:
- If a rate hike is approved (currently delayed by the city), parking meter rates would be: one hour - $2; 30 minutes - $1; 7.5 minutes - 25 cents. The time limit continues to be two hours.
- Parkade rates will be adjusted to $1.75/hour; $12.25/day and $150/month.
- The last time council approved a parking rate hike was in 2016.
- That saw meters go from $1.10/hour to $1.50/hour.
- At that time, parkade rates jumped to $1.25/hour; $8.75/day and $114/month.
- Number of parking tickets written in August in Charlottetown takes big jump
- Charlottetown delays increasing metered parking, parkade rates
- Business groups call increase in Charlottetown parking rates a 'major deterrent' for customers
- Groups pan Charlottetown's plans to raise parking rates
- Charlottetown parking rates set to increase Oct. 1