Downtown Vernon parking plan proceeds

Parking fees on Vernon’s main street could double. But you’ll also be able to use other methods of payment.

Parking fees on Vernon’s main street could double.

But you’ll also be able to use other methods of payment.

Vernon council voted Monday to endorse four recommendations from the city centre parking implementation strategy – which includes the formation of what Coun. Patrick Nicol called a “long overdue” parking advisory committee.

Council deferred a recommendation of increasing the parking charges on 30th Avenue from 29th to 35th Street, and on the side streets one block either side to $1 per hour to the new parking advisory committee.

The rate is currently 50 cents per hour. The maximum time limit of two hours is proposed to remain in effect.

The side streets are the blocks off 30th Avenue running north-south to 29th Avenue and 31st Avenue. For example, if you park on 31st Street beside Nolan’s Drugs, that would be $1, but go a block further north and park in front of North Okanagan Youth and Family Services, and the parking rate would stay at 50 cents.

City of Vernon transportation technician Amanda Watson explained that the increase would take place when new parking meters are installed.

One of the recommendations council approved was a request for 214 new parking meters that accept other methods of payment in addition to coins.

“The Canadian mint issued new $1 and $2 coins that are lighter, and 238 of our meters can’t be adapted so they have to be replaced,” said Watson.

In her report to council, Watson said 30th Avenue is Vernon’s busiest street with 90 per cent occupancy in the peak periods.

The move to increase the fees is to get people off of main street and onto the side streets.

Such a move would not result in a loss of revenue.

“Our figures show there would be a 10 per cent decrease (of traffic) on 30th Avenue but traffic would be transferred to adjacent avenues,” said Watson. “They’re below 50 per cent occupancy and they have the potential to take extra traffic.

“There would be an increase in revenue overall because a decrease of usage with an increased fee would see an increase of $70,000. Overall we project $104,000 in additional revenue yearly.”

Downtown Vernon Association president Ruth Hoyte was happy with the direction from council.

“We’re very pleased regarding the parking strategy implementation, and we’re very pleased to finally be getting a parking advisory committee,” said Hoyte. “The committee will allow us to address a number of strategies we’ve been working on a lot.”

Hoyte was also happy to hear part of the recommendations include upgrades to the parkade, which currently has a 75 per cent occupancy rate.