PARRY SOUND - In keeping with the recent theme of finding ways to save or make money, the town is taking a closer look at its lease agreement with St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church’s parking lot.
Town examines revenue loss at St. Andrew’s parking lot.
The St. Andrew’s parking lot on Seguin Street sits empty as the town decided to postpone signing a new lease with the church for the lot.
Cody Storm Cooper/North Star
Last week council decided to postpone signing another lease agreement with the church for its Seguin Street lot and advised town staff to stop parking there so it can research the space’s use over the next year.
The town pays the church $5,000 annually, through three-year contracts, spending $40,000 since 2004, and has collected only $13,000 in parking fees over the same period, for a loss of $27,000.
Bylaw enforcement officer Tammy Purdy said there are about 21 spaces in the lot: 13 are used daily by municipal staff (for free), four spaces are used by monthly permit holders ($40 a month) and another four are available for patrons of the downtown area.
“Even though we may be trying to run things more like a business, there’s a substantial loss here annually,” said Coun. Bonnie Keith last Tuesday. “Seems to me that we already know it’s under-utilized and why do we need a study to tell us what we already know, I cannot see that myself. I think what we should just do is not renew the lease and think creativily…whether we decide to wait a year and spend more money, throwing it into a sinkhole or we can just wait and find out ourselves and see how things go.”
Town CAO Rob Mens added by having staff park elsewhere, the town will be able to see if the lot will be used by downtown patrons and will also give the opportunity for the town to make money.
“You may very well be right (Keith), but the only way to truly know is to not have staff park there,” said Mens. “That way after a full year, after a full four seasons, we would have the statistics to back it up. And it may just prove what our guts might be telling us.”
Coun. Dan McCauley said there is potential for revenue, because the lot is being used, but for free, by municipal staff.
“Municipal staff this year, since we’ve moved back, that’s the most we’ve ever parked in there. The town used to have a parking area for our staff, so the lot usage has always been limited during peak season,” said Purdy.
Municipal staff will be asked to park on Gibson Street, south of the Bell building.
Council postponed signing a new lease until its October 2 meeting, with councillors Dave Williams, Paul Borneman, Keith Saulnier and Brad Horne voting in favour; councillors Keith and McCauley voted against.