A parking pay station in Dartmouth in September 2020. — Photo: Twitter/@hfxgov

Parking fines may be going up in Halifax for the second time in under two years.

In September 2020, Halifax regional council voted in favour of a bylaw amendments to increase fines for metered parking violations from $25 to $35 (and from $20 to $30 if paid early).

Now it’s considering raising those fines from $35 to $45, or $40 if paid early.

During council’s virtual budget committee meeting on Friday, Coun. Waye Mason moved to add the proposal to council’s budget adjustment list. It was a budget option presented by staff in Transportation and Public Works, and would bring in an extra $300,000 to $450,000 in revenue annually.

“The issue is that right now — even with COVID, the prices have dropped a little bit — but it’s still $20 to $25 to park for the day off-street in a parking garage, and it’s $30 to pay a ticket within seven days. If you only get one ticket every second day, then it’s $15. If you only get one ticket every third days then it’s $10 to park on-street,” Mason said.

“This is a game that a lot of people feel comfortable playing.”

Mason argued Halifax still has some of the lowest parking fines in Canada.

Coun. Tim Outhit said he’d prefer what he called “pyramid” parking tickets — stacking tickets on an illegally parked vehicle.

“I would think if somebody who was doing this on a regular basis suddenly started getting their windshield decorated two and three times a day that would be as much if not more of a deterrent than a $5 or $10 increase,” Outhit said.

But parking manager Victoria Horne said that approach can reflect poorly on parking officers, who are accused of being “punitive” when they get to court.

Outhit was the sole vote against the motion. Councillors will make a final decision later in the budget-building process, when they pick and choose items from the budget adjustment list to finalize the total spending plan for 2022-2023. That meeting is scheduled for March 23.

‘Stop Killing People Halifax’

Coun. Shawn Cleary proposed savings of $100,000 by ditching Heads Up Halifax — the ineffective, victim-blaming traffic safety campaign that distributes bright clothing to residents as part of an overemphasis on pedestrians’ responsibility for their safety.

“If it was called Stop Killing People Halifax, it might be more effective than Heads Up Halifax, I’m not sure,” Cleary said.

“Let’s look at this and see if we’re getting value from it. And if we’re not, and if there’s a way to get better value, then let’s move in that direction. I’m happy to spend the money if it makes the roads safer.”

Deputy Mayor Pam Lovelace said the campaign is “mostly irrelevant” in her district, but she welcomed an opportunity to talk more about road safety awareness.

Despite some defence of the existing campaign, the motion passed unanimously.

At meetings on Wednesday and Friday this week, councillors voted to add four other Transportation and Public Works items to the budget adjustment list: $500,000 for paving gravel roads; an as-of-yet undetermined amount for “Parking initiatives to support Business Recovery” from COVID-19; added revenue of $220,000 from increasing commercial compost tipping fees from $75 to $90; and added revenue of $95,000 from increasing commercial recycling tipping fees from $30 to $45.

They previously added two other items: $7.5 million for enhanced sidewalks and $200,000 for upgraded crosswalks.

Cleary made a few failed attempts at adding options under budget to the list, too.

First, he moved on Wednesday to stick to a biweekly green bin pickup schedule year-round. From July to the end of September, HRM picks up green bins weekly. The change would’ve saved $900,000 annually, but only Mayor Mike Savage and councillors Lisa Blackburn and Lindell Smith supported it. Cleary then moved to cut the weekly pickup by one month. That failed too, with Smith, and councillors Tim Outhit, Sam Austin, and Tony Mancini supporting Cleary.

The Halifax West-Armdale councillor also moved to eliminate sidewalk snow clearing for all Priority 3 sidewalks. Those are residential sidewalks (visible in blue in this map) across HRM, but largely concentrated in urban areas. He argued residents would do a better job than contractors and the municipality are doing now.

Cleary’s colleagues were universally opposed to the idea, which he said would save more than $1 million annually; his was the only vote in favour.

Next week, council’s budget committee will discuss the Halifax Transit and Parks and Recreation budgets.

Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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