March 18, 2019 8:08 pm
Updated: March 19, 2019 1:52 am

Parking in Kelowna’s downtown could become more costly in some areas

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Downtown Kelowna’s parking rates haven’t been reviewed in more than a decade.

Now city council is reviewing downtown parking and will consider some major changes to its structure.

READ MORE: City looks for solutions to parking woes in downtown Kelowna

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‘You can always improve on how it functions,” City of Kelowna parking services manager Dave Duncan told Global News. “And to find areas to make tweaks in to make improvements.”

Council is reviewing a number of parking-related aspects including a variable rate system.

That would involve users paying more for on-street parking in some areas and less in others.

“So whether it makes sense to have the same rate for the locations that are the closest to the waterfront that might be the busiest zones, should it be the same rate as towards the other end of downtown where demand is less, or should the rates actually reflect what the demand is,” Duncan said. “So that’s one of the concepts we’re looking at.”

A variable rate system could also extend paid-parking later into the evening.

READ MORE: City of Kelowna approves fund to pay for Kirschner Mountain neighbourhood slope repairs

Right now, meter parking is free after 5 p.m. but depending on how council decides to proceed, that could be extended until 9 p.m.

“It’s definitely possible, but again, that will still be a decision yet to be made,” Duncan said.

Duncan said one of the advantages to evening paid parking is it would prevent long-term parkers, such as restaurant employees, from occupying the spots all night long, freeing more of them up.

“We found in the evening period when we don’t have any restriction currently, if you come down here in the evening you will have a difficult time finding some on-street parking space but yet the parkades are near empty at the same time,” Duncan said.

“So it’s trying to shift that demand to where it’s most appropriate and if we got longer-term parking in the on-street locations in the evening, if that is employees or long-term parkers, again shifting them to the parkades and opening up those spaces for the customers and the shorter-term use.”

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While many Kelowna residents would like to see the creation of more downtown parking, city officials argue there is currently enough parking to meet all of the demand.

“We actually haven’t had a situation where all three parkades are full, that has not happened,” Duncan said. “I suppose the exception where we got close might have been Canada Day, where we had a lot of people coming downtown but even on event nights, a traditional, say, Rockets game event night, we’ll find that our new Memorial Parkade hasn’t even reached half capacity yet.”

While there are no immediate plans to create more parking, one idea that may be considered is allowing homeowners who live in or near the downtown to rent out their extra spots via an app.

“If you get somebody who has three legal parking spots on their property and they only have one car there is an opportunity to make use of that capacity that may be sitting there unused,” Duncan said.

Council is still discussing and considering all of the above ideas.

It’s not yet known when any decisions may be made.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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