Lethbridge City Council is set to hear a plan to increase parking payments and fines downtown, which officials say is needed to offset inflation and low compliance rates.
Levi Cox owns Catwalk Salon and Spa downtown, where the business owner also lives. He said he was disappointed to hear of the proposed increase.
“I know everyone says everything goes up all the time but is this really the right choice right now for Lethbridge?” he questioned.
Cox said the increase in rates and fines will have a direct impact on his business, staff and clients.
“This does hurt our business and our bottom line,” he said.
“And what about my employees and all the employees of downtown? They already have to travel downtown to work and now they are going to have an increase in their fees because they are buying parking everyday.”
The proposal would see two- and three-hour parking rates go from $1.00 per hour to $1.10.
Ten-hour parking rates would go from $0.45 to $0.50 per hour.
Andrew Malcolm is the Urban Revitalization Manager with the city and brought the proposal forward. He said the rates will need to go up, and starting now means a more gradual change for drivers.
“We begin to raise them up but in small amounts over time… so that when there is pressure due to increases in inflation and costs, we’re not overburdened or having to do a big increase,” Malcolm said.
The other proposed increase is for parking fines, which would go from $25.00 if paid after seven days, to $40.00 if paid within a week. The early fine would be $20.00 instead of the current $10.00.
“We are looking to increase compliance in terms of people actually paying for parking where they are supposed to,” Malcolm said.
He also said even after the increases, Lethbridge would still have one of the lowest parking rates in similar-sized cities.
For business owners like Cox, he said any increase could keep people away from the downtown core.
“With recent challenges in the downtown, I think it’s really bad timing to put any deterrent. We want to encourage people to come shop, eat and spend their money and enjoy their day downtown,” he said.
If council approves the increases, they would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.