Winnipeg drivers could face tougher parking penalties and see some parking charges extended past 5:30 p.m., with others reduced or erased altogether.
The city is working on a new, five-year parking strategy to revamp its current policy — though plenty of council discussion and public consultation is expected before any final decisions are made.
"There is some exciting and significant parking policy reforms that we can explore that I think can lead to a better experience for everybody," said Coun. Matt Allard, public works committee chairman.
A draft framework of the policy notes the City of Winnipeg will seek feedback on some notable potential changes, including whether a pilot project should test "progressive parking fines" that aim to deter repeat offences.
"The parking rules are there to better manage parking. Fines are part of those tools you can use in order to achieve better compliance, so I’m open to discussion on it," said Allard (St. Boniface).
The report suggests research will also explore whether drivers can be provided real-time parking data on available spaces, whether some paid spaces should become free, and whether some existing rates should be raised or lowered.
“There is some exciting and significant parking policy reforms that we can explore that I think can lead to a better experience for everybody.” — Coun. Matt Allard, public works committee chairman
"I’m favourable to the idea that we should use pricing in order to create the right amount of vacancy… So I think there’s some opportunities to provide a better delivery of parking in Winnipeg that’s basically a win for the parking authority and for the resident who wants to find a parking spot — and actually finds one, instead of circling around the block a number of times," Allard said Thursday.
While noting the bulk of these ideas requires more research, and will be subject to public consultation this fall, the city is already planning a "block-by-block" numbering system to fine-tune its parking data. It is expected to help officials set parking rates in specific areas in an effort to ensure about 85 per cent of spaces are occupied, a current city target.
"Basically, what that will do is allow us to break apart and get more granular data on occupancy rates than we currently have right now," said Dan Locke, a policy analyst with the Winnipeg Parking Authority.
"It’s certainly our hope that having more granular and detailed data on occupancy will enable us to make better recommendations on pricing."
“The parking rules are there to better manage parking. Fines are part of those tools you can use in order to achieve better compliance, so I’m open to discussion on it.” — Matt Allard
The new parking strategy will also aim to better manage "curbside use" for drivers, cyclists, mobile vendors, emergency services, and vehicles for hire. For example, the report says a pilot program could one day test the addition of vehicle-for-hire pickups and drop-offs at key destinations.
The parking authority is also embarking on a few other changes prior to the final strategy, including a reduction in the number of on-street pay stations and a corresponding increase in mobile parking. Winnipeg may also expand the number of parking tickets sent out by mail.
Meanwhile, council will soon be asked to adopt a Saturday complimentary street parking policy with two hours of free parking, plus an option to purchase two more hours at on-street spaces.
The final parking strategy is expected in spring 2021.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.