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Kelowna hiking the price of parking

The price of parking is going up in Kelowna—at least the parking the city provides.

On Monday, city council approved an increase of 75 cents per hour for on-street metered parking, sending the price from 50 cents per hour to $1.25 per hour, part of a larger parking management strategy for the city.

The increase is the first for metered parking in the city in 20 years, according to city staff.

Off-street parking, now between 50 cents per hour and $1 per hour will have its base rate set at $1 per hour and daily off-street parking will have a base rate of $5 per day, instead of ranging between $3 per day and $5.20 per day.

City real estate director Derek Edstrom told council it’s important to keep on-street parking more expensive than off-street parking to encourage drivers to use the local lots and parkades so there will be better turnover of spaces for people using businesses, especially in commercial areas such as downtown, Rutland and South Pandosy.

The message resonated with all on council as it was supported unanimously.

“I’m a firm believer that parking should cost more than public transit,” said Coun. Colin Basran in supporting approval of the new parking management strategy.

He said while viewed as a percentage, the 150 per cent hike appears large, but in terms of dollars and cents, the 75 cent per hour increase is “not that great.”

His fellow councillors and Mayor Walter Gray agreed, with several saying the increases are needed if the city is going to effectively manage parking, raise the revenues needed to provide more parking in future and provide better technology for those using it, such as pay stations where credit cards can be used, the ability to pay for parking using cell phone apps and even monitors in the pavement under parking stalls to provide information about available parking for the public.

“There is also a bigger objective for the city,” said Mayor Walter Gray, alluding to Basran’s point. “Getting you out of your automobile (and onto public transit, walking or cycling).”

The goals of the city’s new strategy, according to city staff, are to improve parking availability, ensure the system continues to pay for itself so general taxation is not impacted and improve customer service options.

“Current rates are too low to discourage long-term parking in short-term spaces or to effectively replenish reserve funds to support our parking and transportation infrastructure,” said Dave Duncan, parking operations coordinator for the city.

“Current on-street parking rates have been in effect and unchanged for over 20 years, and are well below market rates and the true cost of providing the service.”

In addition to the increases in parking rates, council also approved development of specific area parking plans as the next phase of the parking strategy.

That strategy will allow City Hall to respond to a number of challenges related to parking in key areas, including changes to parking supply, a growing demand for short- and long-term parking in developing areas and the impacts of increased growth and development on neighbouring residential areas.

In the short term, the city plans to spend $19 million on expanding the existing library parkade downtown and building a new parkade, in part to service a planned new Interior Health office building proposed for the corner of Doyle Avenue and Richter Street downtown.

The new parkade would be built between Memorial Arena and the Kelowna Museum, and will include some public parking as well as spots reserved for workers at the new IH building.

To allow time for public notification of the increased rates, the changes are not planned to go into effect until June 1.

All monthly parking customers, who will also see an increase—base rates will go to $53 to $66 per month from the existing range of $35.75 to $65 per month at city owned parking lots—will receive notification of changes by mail two months in advance.

Edstrom said the changes will bring parking rates at city lots and parkades more in line with what private parking providers charge.

In putting together the plan, city staff consulted with numerous local groups, such as business associations, residents’ associations, business people in areas throughout the city and developers. All expressed support for the city’s plan.

“The city wants to ensure there is sufficient parking for customers and visitors to key areas, while at the same time supporting the goal of providing a balanced transportation network from the Official Community Plan, which means encouraging people to carpool, take transit, bike and/or walk to work when possible,” said Duncan.

The next steps in the parking management strategy will see development of individual area plans, beginning with the South Pandosy and downtown areas. Other areas of the city, including around Kelowna General Hospital and the Landmark buildings on the south side of Harvey Avenue across from the Parkinson Recreation Centre will follow, as required, pending budget approval.

For more information, residents are encouraged to visit kelowna.ca/parking where they can learn more about the new parking management strategy.

Meanwhile, on Monday council also agreed to increase the cost of some parking at Kelowna’s airport as part of an overhaul of the airport’s fees and charges.

There, the daily rate to park in the short-term lot will increase to $18.50 per day from the current $17 per day and the long-term lot price will rise to $12 per day from $11 per day and to $62 per week from $52 per week. Gold Pass holders will see the cost of the passes increase to $900 for six months of parking from $845. Metered rates will not change.

The increases there, to go into effect April 1, are part of a bigger plan to increase numerous other fees and charges at the airport including terminal and operational fees.

Mayor Walter Gray said the airport, even with the latest increases, would continue to have some of the lowest fees and charges of any airport in the country.

(See video attached produced by the city to explain the parking management strategy.)

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