Businesses fight proposed...
Businesses fight proposed parking meter hike
PARRY SOUND - While Huntsville's downtown scrapped its parking meters, Parry Sound is considering increasing its hourly rate.
Businesses fight proposed parking meter hike.
A bylaw proposing a 25-cent an hour increase comes before council Tuesday, Sept. 4.
Cody Storm Cooper/Beacon Star
A bylaw is coming to the council table Tuesday to increase the rate from 50 cents an hour to 75 cents an hour, a move downtown businesses are fighting.
After learning about the potential increase earlier this month, Jeans Unlimited owner Sue Sullivan started a petition against the jump, leaving copies at other downtown businesses for their customers to sign.
In her store alone, Sullivan estimates she has close to 100 signatures.
"If we let it go (the town) is just going to do it and it will be done and passed and then what are we going to do about it?" said Sullivan Wednesday morning of why she started the petition. "I've had a lot of controversy. I've had a lot of customers say they will sign it and they say the same thing, (is the town) trying to get us to not come downtown. I thought they wanted to promote the downtown after redoing the sidewalks and the road and making it look nice and now they're trying to discourage us from coming."
Sullivan agrees that parking meters are needed, but not at an increase to downtown customers.
"Yes we need parking meters, because if we don't have parking meters, people are going to park there all day and customers won't have a parking spot. But we, in no way, need to raise the parking meter (rate)," she said. "If anything, I would be happy at 10 cents (an hour), just to make people come back to their vehicle. Fifty-cents an hour when other towns are taking their meters out, is fair enough, but to go to 75-cents an hour, is only going to make people irate and businesses want people to shop downtown. This is just going to be another reason for them not to."
Up until the proposed bylaw change appeared, Sullivan said she hasn't heard any talk about the cost to park downtown; she fears this move will only anger customers.
"Right now, everyone's been really passive about parking. No one's talking about parking meters, all this is going to do is get everyone all riled up," she said. "You know, this is just going to get people irate. This is the worst timing, because Huntsville just took their meters out."
Effective May 1, meters were taken out of the downtown core in the Muskoka town. Signs are posted in certain downtown areas in Hunstville, limiting parking to no more than two-hours.
"(The bylaw) came to council back in the spring originally, and it was differed by request, by the Downtown Business Association to allow them time to pull their Downtown Revitalization Strategy together and that was supposed to happen over the course of the next couple of months," said town Parry Sound chief administrative officer Rob Mens. "It is together, so the report is back before council. (The increase) just happens to tie into the whole budget reduction initiative."
Liz McWalter, DBA board of directors chair said the economic well-being of the downtown is fragile and suggests no parking meter increase.
"From a Downtown revitalization perspective, we are just commencing execution of the strategies contained in our multi-year Revitalization Plan," said McWalter. " An increase in parking fees will only have a negative impact overall. Therefore the DBA continues to recommend that there be no increase. Also, the decisions to remove all meters in downtown Huntsville as well as other towns in Ontario has gained support and momentum. To raise fees here in downtown Parry Sound in light of the direction taken by others has raised some very serious concerns about the short and mid term strategies in support of a viable economic downtown."