Councillors are considering charging for street parking after 6pm and on Saturdays in a bid to raise an extra $800,000 in revenue.
Metered parking in HRM currently only applies from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
During a committee meeting on the Public Works budget on Tuesday, councillors voted to consider changing that. They’ll make a decision later in the budget process.
Councillors are hoping to keep this year’s increase to the average tax bill to 4%. They’re looking to changes like these to hit that target.
The new parking fees would apply to the downtown Halifax, Spring Garden Road area, and downtown Dartmouth zones.
“According to recent research out of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, the typical urban on-street parking space has annualized land, construction, and operating costs that total $630 to $2,600,” staff wrote in a briefing note to council about the proposal.
“Offering parking for free, or at a highly subsidized rate, incentivizes car culture and provides benefit to the individual user as opposed to the broader community.”
An attached scan of 18 other municipalities found most do charge for parking on Saturdays, including Montreal, Saskatoon, and Victoria. Cities with free Saturday parking include St. John’s, Charlottetown, and Moncton.
$2 an hour on Saturdays, $1.25 on weekday evenings
On Saturdays, from 8am to 6pm, HRM would charge $2 per hour. That would bring in an estimated $538,000 in 2023-2024, increasing to more than $700,000 in 2024-2025.
Fees for parking on weekdays between 6pm and 8pm would be $1.25 per hour. That’s expected to net $284,255.46.
Councillors voted to add the potential changes to their budget adjustment list. The debate on that list is scheduled for March 29. That means the changes are not final, and the municipality plans to consult with the business commissions before going ahead.
The vote on adding Saturdays was 15-1, with Coun. Tim Outhit voting no. Outhit argued people in his district already avoid the downtown area because of a perception there’s no parking.
The vote on adding evenings was closer, 11-5. Mayor Mike Savage, Deputy Mayor Sam Austin and councillors Tony Mancini, Paul Russell, and Tim Outhit voted no. Austin argued that at least in downtown Dartmouth, free evening parking is important for the restaurant scene.
Debate on the Public Works budget is expected to continue on Wednesday.
The business unit formerly known as Transportation and Public Works brought forward a long list of potential cuts and revenue increases for council’s consideration. Those include cutting the seniors snow removal program, cutting all contracted sidewalk snow clearing, and moving green bin pickup to biweekly in the summer.
Executive director Brad Anguish stressed that they were options, not recommendations.
“There’s probably nothing in here we’d recommend,” he said.
If HRM really wanted to they could work with the province to devise some kind of bylaw to get parking revenue out of business parks, where there are at present hundreds of acres of free parking. Level the playing field!
The Downtowns have not recovered from the pandemic, in fact the average small business is carrying a debt load of just over 100,000 dollars. Restaraunts have been especially hard hit. Council should be very careful in adding any additional burden to the downtown core that makes the travelling public re-think about coming here. I have not heard any mention of internal cost controls during this entire budget debate.
Sue For Mayor !!