Shoppers in downtown Winnipeg and the Exchange District are one step closer to saving money on parking fees.
A proposal at City Hall to reduce the cost of on-street parking by 75 cents an hour cleared its first hurdle at infrastructure and public works committee on Tuesday, and will be brought before council later this month.
“It really is good news for us, for businesses,” said Kate Fenske of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.
“The committee has moved forward to go to council (with) that 75 cents an hour reduction for parking in downtown and the Exchange.
“It really is showing that it’s going to be more in line, at that price, with comparable cities across Canada.
“We’re making sound policy decisions. We want to make sure downtown businesses aren’t put at a disadvantage.”
Fenske and David Pensato of the Exchange District BIZ told 680 CJOB that it’s a positive ‘first piece of the puzzle’ toward developing an improved overall parking strategy for the city — something that is expected later this year.
Currently, the city’s parking rate is $2.50 in low-demand zones and $3.50 in high-demand and hospital zones. Most of the Exchange is classified as high-demand due to the limited availability of parking spaces.
Pensato said the lengthy report by the Winnipeg Parking Authority about the price of downtown parking is an example of the city basing decisions on accurate data and analysis.
The Exchange District businesses, he said, are starting to reopen as restrictions loosen up around COVID-19, and while things are slow going so far, there’s a sense of cautious optimism in the community.
“At this point, all of the businesses I’ve spoken to are very cautiously optimistic,” he said.
“As we’ve been slowly opening doors, there’s been — it’s certainly not the volume we saw last year — but there’s a steady trickle of customers coming back.”
The parking issues faced by area businesses, he said, won’t be solved by the 75 cent reduction, but it’s definitely a positive step.
“There’s no short-term fixes,” he said. “It’s all about thinking through what a growing downtown looks like.”
Business owners told 680 CJOB on the weekend that the $1.50-an-hour jump in parking costs that occurred in 2018 should never have happened.
“It’s been a long process of trying to adjust this with City Hall. It’s just another obstacle to creating traffic in our store,” said Into the Music owner Greg Tonn.
“There’s so much to love about what’s going on here in the Exchange — the architecture, the galleries, the different kinds of shopping experiences, the cube, the arts that goes on here.”