High demand’ parking rates sought for downtown, Exchange
By: Paul Turenne
Would you be more likely to shop downtown if the parking rates doubled? Click here to see the video
The Winnipeg Parking Authority is proposing to introduce “high demand zones” throughout much of downtown and the Exchange District that would see hourly rates for on-street, metered parking rise from $1 an hour to $2.
The idea is that higher rates will free up more spots by encouraging turnover and driving all-day parkers to off-street lots, with the resulting increase in available spots attracting more people downtown.
“We’re trying to make short-term parking more available. We want you to be able to find parking within three blocks of where you’re going,” said Colin Stewart, manager of special projects for the WPA. “There will be people who will quite happily go to the low demand, $1 zone and walk, but there are lots of people who want parking available right in front.”
The WPA will present the proposal to council for a final vote once public consultations are complete, possibly as soon as next month.
Eye Site Optical, located at Kennedy and Graham Avenue, finds itself in that zone, and manager Nikki Goltsman isn’t happy about the proposed change.
“I actually think that it will have a negative impact. A lot of people are already upset about how much they have to pay for parking,” she said. “I think their criteria is revenue driven. I don’t believe it has anything to do with attracting people downtown and I think a part of it is a cash grab with the Jets coming back, truthfully. They figure this is a way to generate more revenue for the city, not thinking about the businesses and what kind of impact this will have.”
Brian Timmerman, executive director of the Exchange District BIZ, said his members are split on the issue but he believes the idea could work.
“I think when you hear ‘double’ there’s some shock, but I think if people do come down and realize they can find a more convenient parking spot, they’ll accept it,” he said.
In 2009, Winnipeg city council approved the high demand zone concept and its accompanying higher rate. The WPA then put the $2 hourly rate in place outside Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface General Hospital, the first increase in the city since 1992.
“It has worked out better than expected,” Stewart said. “It has flattened demand and people who need short-term parking can find it. We’ve also given out less tickets as a consequence.”
The WPA is hosted a public consultation about the proposed changes Monday evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. People can also provide their input by completing an online survey by March 19.
Following the public consultations, the WPA will present its recommendations for proposed changes to council.
Red lines: Identified as “high demand” in a 2010 audit.
Green lines: Would be the first “high-demand” rate zones, under the proposal.
View Downtown parking in a larger map