Free parking on three of the main streets in Duncan’s downtown core will be raised from 90 minutes to two hours.
A staff report that was tabled at the City of Duncan’s council meeting on Oct. 7 recommended that parking on Station, Kenneth and Craig streets be increased to two hours.
The long-standing policy of free three-hour parking on those streets was reduced to 90 minutes as part of a pilot program that the city initiated over the summer.
The pilot program was geared to increase traffic turnover downtown to have more spaces available for drivers that only need to stop downtown for lunch or a short number of errands.
It was hoped to encourage those who repeatedly break downtown’s parking rules to seek a long-term solution for their vehicles if they intend to come and go from the downtown and surrounding area, rather than simply moving them from one free parking space to another throughout the day.
Coun. Tom Duncan, chairman of the city’s parking advisory committee, said that after almost four months of the pilot program, committee members decided that having a two-hour parking limit would be more effective than maintaining the 90-minute limit.
“I noticed when downtown with a friend having lunch one day that we were getting pretty close to the 90 minutes, so we though two hours would be better,” Duncan said.
“We have seen changes with the pilot program, including having less people driving around looking for parking spots as there is more parking available downtown as a result.”
Parking fines have also been increased, which is permanent and not part of the pilot program, and there are now escalating fines for frequent parking offenders in the city.
The report on the pilot program, written by Paige MacWilliam, Duncan’s director of corporate services, said that since the implementation of the pilot program in June, staff have not received any written feedback about it, and just one phone call from a member of the public expressing dissatisfaction with the 90-minute parking.
MacWilliam said an online survey conducted by the city on the issue indicated that, as of Sept. 16, 20 of the 46 who participated expressed support for the 90-minute parking, and 26 said they do not support continuing the trial.
“Of those that don’t support continuing with the 90-minute parking trial, 13 have said they would support changing to two-hour parking, and one suggested implementing $2 all-day parking,” she said.
“When those that support the 90-minute parking regulation are combined with those that support two-hour parking, it indicates a large majority of respondents (72 per cent) were supportive of reducing the parking regulation from three hours.”
MacWilliam said the Downtown Duncan Business Improvement Area also compiled feedback from its members on the pilot parking program.
She said that out of the 38 submissions received from DDBIA members, 20 did not support continuing with 90-minute parking, eight supported continuing it and 10 were supportive of changing the regulations to two hours.
“To summarize the DDBIA feedback, 47 per cent of respondents wanted to reduce the parking from the original three hours, while 53 per cent wish to revert back to three hours,” MacWilliam said.
“Suggestions that were received for further changes to the parking regulations included paid on-street parking for longer than 90 minutes; more parking spaces, parking lots and/or a parkade; making the downtown core pedestrian only; having businesses circulate parking maps to their clients when confirming appointments; and having more credit-card enabled parking ticket dispensers installed.”
Coun. Jenni Capps said those suggestions should wait until the city has had its parking capacity study for downtown completed before they are considered.
The city also gave the green light for that study to be done at the same meeting.