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Parking rate rise avoids double-digit tax increase: mayor

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
April 22nd, 2024

Nearly doubling the hourly parking rates in Nelson’s downtown will save a double-digit tax hike, says the city’s mayor.

Janice Morrison defended the rise in parking rates — from $1.25 per hour to $2 — claiming that, without the revenue from parking fees, Nelson property taxes would need to increase by 13 per cent to maintain the City’s current level of services.

She explained that the rising costs of maintaining and expanding the City’s transportation infrastructure prompted the increase.

“This approach helps us enhance our community spaces without increasing taxes for our residents,” she said.

The rate rise was vetted through council over the last few months — as part of the ongoing budget process — and was passed largely uncontested on council. Approval was given by City council on Feb. 6 to the bylaw amendment to increase parking rates by 37.5 per cent to help bolster an already $1 million revenue generator.



The move to increase hourly rates from $1.25 to $2 per hour was passed with only one objection — Coun. Jesse Peneiro — but it met significant objection from the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

Chamber executive director Tom Thomson said the board felt parking rate increases should not exceed inflationary price increases, well below the 37.5 per cent amount council approved.

“We believe there is a sweet spot to maximizing revenues and ultimately keeping consumers out of the downtown shopping, dining and entertainment district,” he said. “One alternative to hourly parking rate increases is to maintain or moderately increase current rates but increase parking fines for violations.”

This week, City bylaw officers will be programming the meters to the new rate. Designated commuter parking areas will remain at $5 per day. Early payment parking fines will be doubling to $20 (if paid within 14 days).

It is expected that the rate rise on the meters will add up to $400,000 to the $1 million the City already collects from meter usage per year.

“Increasing rates will encourage vehicle turnover and make more spaces available for those who need them,” said City deputy chief financial officer Aimee Mooney at the time of the discussion of the legislation in February. “It will also help offset costs of a mobile parking solution that will be implemented in 2024, and to allow for more funding for the capital reserves that support the City’s transportation infrastructure.”


Follow the money 

All of the City’s parking fees collected go directly back into the City’s transportation infrastructure, including the maintenance and enhancement of roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks.

Of total parking revenues, seven per cent is allocated to enhance downtown Nelson, funding the installation of sculptures, and the upkeep of amenities like flower baskets, lighting and benches.

Source: City of Nelson 



Parking “challenges” 

According to City staff, Nelson is facing the following challenges including:

  • increase in capital infrastructure costs — according to Statistics Canada, non-residential construction costs have increased 42 per cent since the beginning of 2017;
  • a need for more transportation infrastructure;
  • limited bylaw enforcement resources — a 2021 parking strategy identified the need for additional resources within the department;
  • limited downtown parking; and
  • noncompliant parkers.

Source: City of Nelson Jan. 9 agenda


Ending the end around

At the current hourly rate of $1.25, paying for eight hours of parking is the same cost as the early payment price of an expired meter ticket.

Although it is possible to receive multiple tickets per day, this encourages some drivers to risk getting a ticket rather than paying for a day of parking, said Mooney in her report.

Seven years ago the City of Nelson increased parking meter fees from $1 per hour to $1.25 per hour.


Call it in

The City is also introducing a new mobile payment option.

This option aims to provide some flexibility for downtown drivers, with people able to either continue using coins in the meters, or pay for and extend parking through their mobile phones.

Categories: General

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