One Penticton city councillor is joining businesses in calling for a swift, but temporary, end to paid parking downtown.
Coun. Ryan Graham is calling for the suspension of the city’s on-street paid parking program and for the reinstatement of the two-hour free parking limit. He will introduce a notice of motion at a meeting this Tuesday, Dec. 6, prompting a vote from mayor and council.
Graham’s proposed suspension of the program would be in effect from Dec. 7 to March 31.
Gratify, a downtown cafe in the 500-block of Main Street, called for an end to paid parking in an open letter to the city earlier this week and said it has discouraged people from visiting their business.
In a recent survey that asked people how Gratify can improve its services, the business found that “parking” was referenced the most. There were 487 respondents.
“Enough feedback has been gathered from even before this formal survey to conclude that your overpriced parking and constant patrolling is killing downtown Penticton,” the business wrote to the city on Facebook. “If you want vibrant and diverse businesses in your downtown core you need to give them a chance.”
The city announced Friday, Dec. 2, that parking will be free on Fridays and Saturdays all December long. There is no paid parking on Sundays year-round.
“Free parking on weekends in December isn’t enough,” Gratify’s post continued. “Fix your pricing structure. Stop giving out insanely inflated tickets. Reevaluate your priorities for downtown before it’s too late.”
Penticton introduced the program to the downtown in April 2021, dishing out $286,000 for the installation of 160 parking meters and 19 pay machines. They were nearly $100,000 over budget.
Since then, drivers have had to pay $2 per hour from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. According to the city in 2021, the paid-parking plan was implemented in response to COVID-19-related revenue loss.
Graham’s notice of motion — which will be presented at the end of Tuesday’s meeting — also calls for council to discuss the elimination of the on-street paid parking program during the 2023 budget deliberations.
Mayor Julius Bloomfield and council will converge at 1 p.m. for its second regular meeting since the Oct. 15 election.