City jacking up cost of parking downtown

Red Deer’s parking rates are rising a few coins on July 1. Hourly fees for meters and public lots will increase by as much as 25 cents and as little as 10 cents in the downtown core, near Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and Riverside area just north of the Red Deer River.

A commissionaire issues a parking ticket as Ludwig Stein gets out change to plug a Ross Street parking meter Tuesday.

Red Deer’s parking rates are rising a few coins on July 1.

Hourly fees for meters and public lots will increase by as much as 25 cents and as little as 10 cents in the downtown core, near Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and Riverside area just north of the Red Deer River.

Fees will rise to $1 from 75 cents within the immediate area and farther out, depending on where one parks, 75 cents from 60 cents and 60 cents from 50 cents. The rates are in effect 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at about 1,200 parking meters and 530 city-owned public lots.

Laura Turner, executive director of the Red Deer Downtown Business Association, said the fee increases are minimal.

“We’ve had no calls,” she said. “I’d rather see minimal increases each year than one large increase.”

And she said she likes that parking all day in a public lot will be slightly higher than doing a round-trip downtown by city transit bus, $4.80 versus $4.30.

Fred Dieno, parking liaison for the city, said the rates are going up in part to encourage downtown employees and employers to find somewhere further out to park and leave the cheaper stalls for customers.

“We’re encouraging people to walk a block,” Dieno said.

And those extra dollars, and any parking tickets that will be had, will also help pay for the three-storey parkade being built above the transit terminal at 48th Street between 47th Avenue and 47A Avenue. The parkade project is projected to cost $21.3 million.

Parking revenues have been budgeted for $2.25 million in 2009. The money is transferred into a parking reserve fund, which over the next 10 to 15 years will help pay for the parkade, Dieno said.

Expenses are expected to run around $750,000 and include meter maintenance and making ramps from handicapped parking stalls onto sidewalks.

The city did have a flat hourly rate of 50 cents in all areas from 2006 to part of 2008.

Then it was decided more must be done to encourage people to walk further into work, Dieno said.

In June 2008, some of the rates increased to 60 cents and 75 cents an hour.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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