The cost of parking — and parking fines — are being hiked up in Red Deer to help repay a loan for the Sorensen Station parkade.
The cost of vehicle parking at a meter or in a city lot will go up 25 per cent July 1. “It sounds like a lot,” said Tara Lodewyk, the city’s planning services director. But she added city parking is a bargain compared to Sylvan Lake, Red Deer College or Edmonton and Calgary.
Costs of meter parking in the city ranges, depending on whether your car is in a two-hour or eight-hour zone. Meters in a two-hour unrestricted zone will go up to $1.25 an hour, rather than the previous $1, said Lodewyk, and up to $2 an hour, maximum, in a two-hour restricted zone.
Most of council supported this change. “It’s the lesser of the evils,” said Coun. Dianne Wyntjes, who noted current parking rates are unsustainable. She was pleased to be able to keep the parking fine increase to 15 per cent.
But Mayor Tara Veer and councillors Tanya Handley and Buck Buchanan voted against the 25 per cent parking rate hike. Veer preferred a 15 per cent increase, saying downtown businesses are only now coming out of an economic downturn, and the parking increase could present another challenge.
The cost of leaving a vehicle at an expired meter in Red Deer will go up to a $65 fine in July, with an early payment option of $30. This compares to the current $55 fine, which drops to $20 if paid within 10 days.
Councillors could have raised parking fines by 25 per cent as well, but felt it would be too great a leap to take in one year.
The city’s chief financial officer, Dean Krejci, told council that the city was taking longer than expected to repayment debentures for Sorensen Station. The downtown parkade was erected in 2010 at a cost of $14.5 million in response to public complaints about inadequate downtown parking.
The city took out $9.2 million and $5.7 million debentures to help pay for it. Repayment schedules were based on optimistic projections, as the economy was then booming , said Lodewyk. But a recession slowed development and reduced predicted parkade revenues.
Lodewyk added that use of the 412 stalls has been picking up. The parkade’s 312 monthly parking stalls are, on average, 65 per full, while the 100 daily stalls are 89 per cent full.