Barrie 2020 Parking Strategy recommends hiking downtown, RVH-area parking rates, places heavy emphasis on parking technology

Proposal to charge for evening parking downtown is put on hold

The City of Barrie’s 2020 Parking Strategy which was given tentative approval at council general committee on Monday includes increased parking rates downtown and in the area around Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, but a recommendation to charge for evening parking downtown will be explored a year from now.

The extensive document already takes into account the increased waterfront rates and fines for non-residents which was approved in the summer. Hourly parking rates jumped from $3 an hour to $10 an hour for non-residents and from $20 a day to $50 a day for people from out of town.

General committee approved a 25-cent hourly increase to downtown rates beginning next October, but put the brakes on a proposal to charge for evening parking up until 9 p.m. starting in April 2022.

Councillor Barry Ward introduced the amendment not to kibosh the idea but to give it further study in a year’s time.

“I don’t want this hanging over restaurants thinking that, Oh, I’m struggling. I know in a year and a year in a half we’re going to be bringing in parking fees. Let’s look at what it’s like in a year’s time. Hopefully we’ll have COVID behind us and we can actually look at it more clearly.”

Ward said this would also give the City time to see where they are with other revenue sources. He also felt evening parking downtown deserved a separate report all of its own and urged staff to look at a flat fee that he said some comparable municipalities charge at night.

The report said evening paid parking was viewed as preferable by the downtown business community because it was seen as being equitable in that it impacts daytime businesses whose customers already pay for parking and it would now impact evening customers who go to restaurants and bars.

The last time parking fees were increased downtown was 2014.

Paid parking around Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre would include weekends as of January 2021, when the rate will more than double to $5 an hour.

Councillor Ann-Marie Kungl found hard to stomach the early payment fine jumping from f$20 to $50. She withdrew an amendment to delay the change until April of next year when told there would be extensive communication about the increase in the early payment fine and the addition of weekend parking fees.

Other highlights from the Parking Strategy include a pilot Shuttle Service connecting downtown parking to waterfront amenities during summer weekends beginning next year, install “No Parking Except by Permit” signage in residential neighbourhoods near waterfront access points, explore a Simcoe County Parking Pass, and allow vehicles without trailers to park at boat launches in the winter.

The report is heavy on technology with recommendations to upgrade paid parking by using Smart Meters, a parking app, leverage licence plate recognition, and transition of the Resident Waterfront Parking Pass from hangtags to digital passes.

“The introduction of a digital app, parking passes, licence plate technology, we are finally starting to get with the times. There is a lot in this.” said Mayor Jeff Lehman.

The last revamp to Barrie’s Parking Strategy was eight years ago. The report said the parking reserve is currently in a deficit situation and is projected to sink even further into the red with no sign of improvement to financial health without intervention.

By implementing the proposals contained in the report, it’s expected the parking reserve can be brought to a revenue neutral position in the early 2030s.

DOWNTOWN RECOMMENDAITONS

  • Adopt Parking Equilibrium Policy – Q4 2020
  • Optimize Pricing Structure – Q1 2021
  • Introduce new parking controls at the Library Lot – Q1 2021
  • Adjust parking controls at City Hall – Q1 2021
  • Withdraw pass access to on-street parking locations – Q1 2021
  • Implement Spillover Controls – Q2 2021

WATERFRONT RECOMMEDATIONS

  • Pilot Shuttle Service – Q2 2021
  • Control parking near waterfront access points – Q2 2021
  • Adopt Waterfront Spillover Parking Policy – Q2 2021
  • Remove downtown pass access from
    waterfront parking – Q 2021
  • Allow vehicles without trailers to park at boat
    launches during the winter – Q4 2020
  • Expand Marina Pass eligibility – Q2 2021
  • Contribute to Wayfinding Master Plan – Q2 2021
  • Investigate Simcoe County Parking Pass – Q2 2021
  • Adjust Hybrid Lot Structure – Q1 2021

TECHNOLOGY RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Upgrade payment hardware to
    Smart Meters
  • Procure third party Parking App
  • Leverage License Plate Recognition
  • Transition from hangtags to Digital
    Passes

FINANCIAL RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Increase waterfront rates & fines for nonresidents – Already
    implemented
  • Increase downtown rates
    • $0.25 increase to hourly rates – Q4 2021 for hourly and daily rates
    • $1.50 increase to daily rates – Q4 2021
    • %10 increase to monthly and annual rates – Q1 for 2021
    • Last increase was 2014
  • Increase Hospital Rates and Fines
  • proposed Barrie rate: $5/hr – Q1 2021
  • RVH rate: $6.50/hr – Q1 2021
  • Extend paid parking to seven days a week – Q1 2021
  • Introduce evening paid parking in the downtown
    (9am – 9pm) (DELAYED A YEAR FOR FURTHER REVIEW)