White Rock considers ending free parking at waterfront
The White Rock Business Improvement Association (BIA) is urging White Rock City Council to reconsider its decision to end free parking at the waterfront during the winter months.
During its Finance and Audit Committee meeting this week, City Council discussed the move, which will remove free parking in the winter, hoping it will reduce tax increases.
Financial services director Candice Gartry explained that if paid parking is brought back on the weekdays from November to January, it will decrease this year’s property tax rate from a 7.3% increase to 7.02%.
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“It would bring in … roughly $158,000 — $75,000 of that would be in the 2023 budget and $83,000 and that would be in the 2024 budget,” she said.
However, councillor Christopher Trevelyan argued free parking was made to help businesses “in the darkest months” and highlighted a letter the BIA wrote in support of keeping parking free in the winter months.
In a letter the BIA shared on Instagram regarding the bylaw amendment, it said that while it understands the City has to explore its avenues to raise revenues, removing free parking will unlikely significantly increase revenue.
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BIA added the motion will even create barriers for people accessing businesses during the slowest part of the year, “particularly for the non-residents that our businesses rely on for survival.”
However, councillor David Chesney argued, “It was ridiculous we never got rid of [free parking].”
“With the exception of a few vocal businesses down on the waterfront, they look for an excuse for their failing business and it’s very easy to say that pay parking is the problem,” he said. “I never hear that from … anyone of the successful businesses along that waterfront has never ever told me to pay parking winter, spring, summer or fall impedes their business.”
Councillor Elaine Cheung was also part of the majority on City Council that is in favour of removing free parking.
“What I’m seeing is when the weather is [warm], people will come because they want to spend time outside and … I don’t think they come down for free parking … They came down because the weather was beautiful. For that reason, I do believe we can have paid parking,” she said.
The bylaw amendment has only gone through its first reading, and the council voted on the motion, which carried.
A final reading is needed for the law to take effect.
If the bylaw is officially approved, paid parking will increase by $0.25 an hour during the winter and summer months at the waterfront.
Pay parking will take effect in parkades, lots, and on-street parking locations seven days a week from 10 am to midnight.
Will paid parking at the waterfront stop you from visiting White Rock in the winter months? Let us know in the comments below.