With a downtown parking review currently underway, council put one element on the fast track by increasing parking time for handicapped drivers.
To unanimous council support, a motion was passed during Monday’s city council meeting to have administration increase “all handicapped parking meters to no less than two hours of parking.”
“They move a lot slower than we do, so we have to give them more time and more opportunity to go about their business,” Coun. Greg Dionne said.
The Prince Albert Downtown Improvement District is currently in the process of surveying their members about parking in the city’s downtown core, opening up a can of worms when it comes to parking concerns.
Most of downtown utilizes one-hour parking meters, an exception being the parking lot off of Ninth Street behind the Daily Herald building, which accommodates five-hour parking.
Coun. Lee Atkinson noted that most of these parking spots are usually empty, which leaves him questioning whether parking is the best use of this land.
“How much revenue really does it bring in?” he asked. “Is there a need for that parking, or would it be better to take these parking meters off that property, divest of it, and offer it up for sale for someone who might build something on it, because quite frankly it’s totally underutilized as a parking lot.
“The need for municipal parking isn’t as acute as it once was.”
Dionne countered Atkinson’s proposal by stating that the parking lot should remain as is, but with increased time allowances.
“We have a parking issue down there, contrary to what Coun. Atkinson thinks,” Dionne said. “We have so many government employees plugging up that parking all over that area because they don’t want to pay for parking in the parking lot structure — they think it’s too expensive.”
They move a lot slower than we do, so we have to give them more time and more opportunity to go about their business. - Coun. Greg Dionne
Daily or monthly parking passes could be a means of tapping into this market, he said.
An additional issue is that these parking stalls aren’t necessarily known by those utilizing the city’s downtown core, Coun. Martin Ring said.
What’s needed, he said are “some plans on how we’re going to get people to know where these four or five-hour parking meters (are).”
With council’s request for a parking review about four months old, Ring motioned to have it come forth sooner rather than later.
“Let’s not just send it back, let’s send it back with some instructions to get it completed,” he said.
The Prince Albert Downtown Improvement District will survey its members, after which time an additional review will take place to determine where there’s a need for additional parking time changes.
City transportation manager Keri Sexmith’s report on the parking review concludes by recognizing the divisive nature of parking meters in the city of Prince Albert.
“The parking meters downtown are constantly scrutinized by the public and business community and will continue to be a focus of debate and discussion.”
Aside from the increase in time allotment for handicapped parking meters from one hour to two, downtown parking will remain as is until the survey has been completed and recommendations come forth.