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This article was published 14/3/2011 (3141 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg Parking Authority hopes to earn an additional $2.5 million this year, partly by extending pay hours, boosting rates in high-demand areas and increasing the fines for common penalties such as failing to plug a pay station.
The authority's 2011 business plan calls for the city special operating agency to earn $14 million this year, up from $11.5 million in 2010. The authority hopes to rake in an additional $700,000 of meter and pay-station revenue and an extra $800,000 in fines, but also cut administrative costs.
What motorists will notice most — if city council approves the business plan — is a battery of fee hikes.
Pay hours on city streets will begin one hour earlier, at 8 a.m. Parking rates will double during the day — to $2 per hour — in high-demand areas of downtown such as Broadway, the Portage Avenue strip and Main Street in the Exchange District. Parking hours will extend into the evening on weekdays in the same areas.
As well, fines for common parking offences such as failing to plug a meter or pay station, or parking too long in the same spot, will increase to $30 if paid within 15 days, or a maximum of $60. The existing fines are $20 within 15 days or a maximum of $40.
The authority may also place pay stations on additional streets where residents or businesses have asked for parking controls. Before new pay stations are added, however, the agency plans to "conduct a door-to-door communication campaign," parking authority officials Kevin Boutilier and Colin Stewart write in a report to council's alternate service delivery committee.
Alternate service delivery chairman Scott Fielding (St. James) said he intends to ask Winnipeg Parking Authority officials to explain the increased fines when the agency's business plan comes before his committee today.
Fielding said he understands the need to begin the pay period an hour earlier, as many motorists begin work before 9 a.m. "This is a bit of housekeeping, in terms of the hours," he said.
Fielding said he supports the notion of increasing rates in high-demand areas of downtown, where parking stalls are scarce. A pilot project to boost rates around Health Sciences Centre succeeded in boosting turnover, he said.
"If you don't have spaces, that's probably more frustrating than paying a dollar more," said Fielding, promising to hold public consultations about all the fee increases, especially with downtown businesses.
Stefano Grande, executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement Zone, said he supports the increased rate for the Portage Avenue strip. Grande said 10 to 15 per cent of parking meter space should be vacant at any time to encourage more turnover and increase business for Portage Avenue retailers. Right now, that's not the case, he said, surmising a fee hike may encourage downtown employees to park their cars in surface lots or parkades designed for longer-term parking
"That hasn't been happening," Grande said. "The demand for these spaces is very, very high."
CAA Manitoba spokeswoman Liz Peters, however, said she would like to see additional parking revenues — which she described as a higher tax — used to fund infrastructure improvements: "They should be putting that money back towards streets and roads."
Overall, the authority expects to clear approximately $3.5 million this year, based on revenue of $16.3 million and expenses of $12.8 million. In 2010, the agency cleared $2 million.
The agency plans to earn less parkade revenue, thanks to the sale of the Winnipeg Square Parkade. Along with the WPA business plan, council's alternate service delivery committee will consider today a separate report on how to spend the $23.6 million in proceeds from the parkade sale.
Adding up the damage to your pocketbook
EARLIER OPENING HOURS: The Winnipeg Parking Authority is asking for the pay-parking period to begin one hour earlier in the morning, at 8 a.m., instead of 9 a.m.
NEW RATES FOR HIGH-DEMAND AREAS: The WPA has requested the following new rates for high-demand parking areas such as the Portage Avenue strip, Broadway and the Exchange District section of Main Street:
Weekdays: The cost of parking in two-hour zones would double to $2 per hour from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Rush-hour restrictions would remain in place.
— Saturdays: Parking would cost $1 for the first hour and the second hour would be free. Right now, the first two hours are free.
— Evenings: Parking would cost $1 per hour, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Right now, it's free.
FINES GOING UP: Parking too long at a meter or pay station, not plugging a meter or pay station or parking improperly there will cost $30 if you pay within 15 days or a maximum of $60. The existing fines are $20 if you pay within 15 days or a maximum of $40.
MORE MONEY OVERALL:Parking authority financial projections for 2011:
— Money from fines: $7.3 million this year, up from $6.5 million in 2010.
— Meter revenue: $5.4 million this year, up from $4.7 million in 2010.
— Surface-lot revenue: $1.1 million this year, down from $1.3 million in 2010.
— Parkade revenue: $2.2 million this year, down from $2.8 million in 2010.
— Retained earnings: $14 million this year, up from $11.5 million in 2010.
— Overall profits: $3.5 million, up from $2 million in 2010.
— Source: Winnipeg Parking Authority