The City of Red Deer is still repaying two loans for the Sorensen Station parkade, which are contributing to a deficit in the parking revenue fund. (Advocate staff)

The City of Red Deer is still repaying two loans for the Sorensen Station parkade, which are contributing to a deficit in the parking revenue fund. (Advocate staff)

Dropping parking revenues in Red Deer are creating a deficit

Loan repayments for the cost of the parkade are straining reserves

The pandemic and loss of college students from downtown Red Deer have contributed to a growing parking revenue loss in the city.

General-manager of planning, Tara Lodewyk, told city council that a $152,000 deficit was expected for parking operations for 2020. When added to a previously accumulated deficit, this means the total shortfall will hit $279,000 by Dec. 31.

She said the situation is caused by a loss of parking revenues and the need to keep repaying two outstanding loans for the construction of the downtown parkade in 2009.

“The debentures have caused strain on reserves. Initially there was money in the parking reserve, but as time has gone on this was depleted,” said Lodewyk.

This year, Red Deer’s parking revenues took two big hits: By the lifting of parking fees at the start of the pandemic, and due to RDC relocating its School of Business to the main campus from the downtown.

Lodewyk noted many business students had previously been using the downtown parkade and these revenues are now lost.

She hopes the city will eventually gain parking revenues from the new Justice Centre opening in a few years, bringing more motorists to the downtown.

Meanwhile, she’s recommending that city council roll this deficit into general expenses, to be covered by taxes.

Lodewyk also put two other options before council: allowing parking to remain self-supported, with internal borrowing covering the deficit; and with taxpayers paying for the first parkade loan and using a government MOST grant to cover the other $800,000.

But Johnston suggested a fourth option: That the matter be tabled until early in 2021 to allow administration to report back to council about exploring refinancing possibilities of the parkade loans.

Council supported re-examining the situation after the fourth option is presented next year.

Red Deer City Council