There’s thousands of reasons the City of Trail doesn’t want free parking — make that 350,000 reasons.
Between meter revenue, parking lot fees and fines, the city brings in $350,000 gross and nets $159,500 annually from parking operations – too good to give up and if they did, that would backfire onto local businesses.
“There would be a real loss of revenue and this money effectively offsets property tax levies for the city services provided,” Chief Administrative Officer David Perehudoff said. “Council has maintained a low property tax ration when considering the current business tax rate as compared tot he residential rate,” he added. “In this respect by proceeding as suggested, the $300,000 revenue lose would be appropriately attributed to Class 6 Business and this would result in a 31 per cent increase in the current Class 6 levy.”
Another significant problem with parking in downtown Trail is not even about the money.
It’s who is parking outside the businesses for hours on end – often its those who work downtown, not necessarily shoppers or visitors to the city.
The chamber board did consider this matter, and suggested the city implement a system for free two-hour parking, and mark tires (monitored by bylaw officers) to fine those who overstay the limit. The board also suggests notable fines for business owners who park in front of downtown businesses.
“Also, fines would be hefty for business owners if they park in front of the downtown businesses unless they have a designated spot which would cost per month or year,” the board noted. “These are just a few of many options that are being adopted by cities like ours, to improve the possibility of economic development, increase tourism and significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the repairs and vandalism to meters.”
While council considered the suggestions, the panel agreed that the city’s downtown core has evolved from retail into more service-based, which shifts the demand of parking needs.
“Opening things up would most likely result in a usage shift as noted and could have a reverse effect,” Perehudoff said. “While suggesting “heftier fines” to combat this seem practical in theory, the city’s ability to collect fines and deal with the associated administrative costs would suggest this approach would not necessarily have the desired impact.”