Council hears new ideas on Downtown parking changes following partnership with business community
Following an item in last year’s Operating Budget which proposed parking fine increases, public concern led City Council to direct administration to form a working engagement group with local businesses to find other possible options.
The group included City staff from Transportation, Infrastructure Services and Communications and Engagement and stakeholders, which included representatives of the Downtown Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) and the Heart of Our City Committee (HOCC). The engagement team met three times between June and September this year.
“I would like to thank all those who contributed time and effort to this process,” says Phillip Berg, Parking Coordinator. “Our engagement group members all have a common goal of seeing a vibrant downtown. Through our discussions, we worked together in a collaborative fashion to find some compromises, propose creative ideas and generate some new incentives for parking downtown.”
On Wednesday, during the Economic and Finance Standing Policy Committee meeting, members heard updates supported by the engagement team. The proposed recommendations are to be carried out as a two-year pilot project, with an update to Council after one year.
“On behalf of City Council, I am pleased to hear new ideas supported and presented by Administration and key stakeholders,” says Mayor Blaine Hyggen. “We will certainly consider the collective and meaningful input and suggestions from this engagement group that we tasked.”
Some of the recommendations proposed by the engagement team include:
- Reduce fine proposal from $50 to $40 (reduction of $20 if paid within 10 days) in the downtown core
- Parking fines outside downtown core $50 (reduction of $15 if paid within 10 days)
- Implementation beginning February 1, 2024
- Provide free parking in the downtown core Monday-Friday until 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m. (change from the current enforcement hours of 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)
- Grace period increase to seven minutes (change from the current three minutes)
- Replace all current Zone 2 areas with Zone 3 (Downtown BRZ completed a separate survey to implement this proposal and received overwhelming support)
- Provide free downtown core parking initiative days (to be decided in consultation with the BRZ and the HOCC)
- Enhanced maintenance program for the kiosks
- Implementation beginning February 1, 2024
Recommendations from the Economic and Finance Standing Policy Committee will still need to go to City Council for approval.
“I would like to thank the BRZ members, the HOCC and the City of Lethbridge Infrastructure, Transportation and Communications and Engagement departments for their collegiality as we all worked together to bring viable solutions to a sensitive topic,” says Sarah Amies, Executive Director of the Downtown BRZ. “We worked collaboratively and intelligently towards solutions and outcomes that will, we hope, satisfy stakeholders affected by revisions to parking fines in 2024.”
“The Heart of Our City Committee wholeheartedly supports the proposed resolution to the parking fines increase and believes that the new proposal has found a mutually acceptable program that will allow City Administration, downtown businesses, and all the residents of Lethbridge to benefit in multiple ways,” says Lorien Johansen, Chair of the HOCC. “We would like to express our gratitude to City Council for listening to the feedback from the public on the original parking fines increase, for offering an opportunity for re-evaluation of the program, and for including our committee in the process of creating a new proposal.”
- Administration recommends that the three readings be given to Bylaw 6428 and amendment of the 2023-2026 Operating Budget Initiative C-6 Parking Fines as per the recommendations from the engagement team
- A comprehensive education campaign will be developed and implemented alongside the new changes to allow residents and business to understand and embrace the parking program
- The engagement team will continue to monitor the proposed changes and report back to Council after the first year of implementation to ensure the program is successful
- Paid parking started in 1963, with rates established at $0.10/hour
- Current paid parking rate $1/hour was established in 2013
- Parking fine amounts at $25 have not changed since 1990
- The reduction if paid within seven days was changed from $19 to $15 in 2012
- The City of Lethbridge currently charges the lowest among comparable municipalities for both parking rates and parking fines
The City of Lethbridge offers a wide variety of ways to pay for parking. Those methods include coins, credit cards, re-loadable parking cards, mobile payment, debit tap, Google Pay, Apple Pay and the Business Add Time to Plate Program. More information on City of Lethbridge parking is available here.