New parking stalls are coming, as are increased meter fees after city council gave the never-ending issue its full attention Monday.
The city is hoping to add 27 new stalls around downtown by the end of the month by repainting parallel lines to angles.
Council also voted to raise parking meter fees by 25 cents to help pay for a $600,000 increase to the road paving budget. Councillor Anna Purcell was the deciding vote with Janice Morrison, Val Warmington and Michael Dailly also supporting the motion. Mayor Deb Kozak, Bob Adams and Robyn Cherbo voted against it.
Purcell said she struggled with her vote. She acknowledged the 25 cent raise makes Nelson just a little more expensive to live in, but also that money needed to come from somewhere to repair the city’s aging roads and it made sense to charge users instead of resorting to taxation.
“I don’t take increasing any cost lightly,” she said. “The decision is eating away at me. I feel like this is one of those cases where in this position we’re asked to make difficult decisions that are for the greater good that are super unpopular and I think this is one of them.”
Still, the raise in fees only puts a dent in the money needed for resurfacing the roads. The paving budget jumped to $1.1 million annually after staff realized the previous budget only allowed for roads to be redone once every 60 years.
The estimated $155,000 from the meter increase is also dependent on whether or not council moves forward with a parking strategy plan, the first draft of which was presented by public works director Colin Innes and city manager Kevin Cormack on Monday and can be seen below this story.
Cormack said the bigger paving budget gets the resurfacing schedule down to 30 years.
“It’s a pretty urgent situation,” he said. “I like to make the analogy of, if you own a vehicle and the first 15 years you don’t have any money to replace it, and you hit the 15th year and you still don’t have any money then you’re in trouble. So we’re at that place now. We’re at the 30-year mark with a lot of our roads and we really need to start investing in them, because we don’t have the luxury to not do it.
“We don’t have another 30 years to put off that decision.”
Proposed highlights from the draft parking strategy include:
• Pilot changes to current parking times, such as decreasing meters to 15 minutes outside banks or increasing time elsewhere.
• Reviewing whether more meters should be added to currently free stalls.
• Introducing paid parking commuter zones on the periphery of the downtown core. The zones would charge a flat fee for eight hours. Cormack said the city is also exploring the possibility of partnering with B.C. Transit to have buses pick up commuters at stalls outside downtown.
• Adding more angled parking on Lakeside Drive near the airport.
A parking kiosk meanwhile will also be installed by the end of June that will service 38 stalls on the 100 and 200 blocks of Hall Street.
The draft was presented during a committee of the whole meeting, in which council hears but doesn’t make decisions on proposals. Public consultation is also expected to take place prior to any council vote.
Cormack said staff tried to take a more granular look at the city’s parking needs as it drew up the plan.
“Where do we create four-hour zones? Where do we create eight-hour zones? Why do we allow a residential parking area here but not over here? So we wanted to start with those principles so we had consistency throughout and create a strategy, and from there get down to that more detailed level and look at how do we implement that strategy with the road system that we have.”