Last week Castanet reported the cost of parking was going up to $1.25 in downtown Kelowna.
The City of Kelowna says the current $.50 cent an hour rate is the best deal around, even cheaper than our next door neighbours in Vernon who charge $1 an hour and far less than Vancouver at $6 per hour.
The City states it is the first increase in 20 years.
In our recent Castanet Poll of the 827 votes cast, 643 responders or 78 per cent said the increase would stop them from shopping and enjoying activities in the downtown core.
In general, Kelownians tell us that yes it is only $1.25 an hour, but it is a 150 per cent increase and it is too much all at once.
“I'm sorry, but the City of Kelowna just paid thousands in Revitalizing Downtown Kelowna, to encourage people to shop and visit...do you honestly think people will want to go downtown when parking is free at the mall?”, points out Brenda Nourry.
Raegan Hall, Owner of downtown boutique 'Blonde', says the numbers don’t lie, her books show the changes have hurt her business and the City just doesn’t get it.
“They are not running a business, so they have no idea how it is affecting the numbers. If they would like me to supply them some numbers to compare this year to last year and the year before, I am sure they would very shocked,” said Hall.
She adds that the parking has totally changed her business model and she can no longer rely on local clientele.
“My clientele is Albertans. It is definitely tourists that use my store . . . because with this parking situation the locals just don’t want to bother.”
Michael Neill is co-owner of Mosaic Books in downtown Kelowna and isn't sure how it will affect his bottom line but has already heard complaints.
“I've had a few people saying that they unfortunately love our store, but figure they will be visiting us less.”
And the end of the day Neill feels it will hurt those businesses that rely on local traffic.
“The significant reduction in parking that has been happening along Bernard Ave. has got to have some negative impact for sure and then of course adding to the cost is of course another deterrent to shopping downtown.”
A Kelownian named Mike that we spoke to wants to support small businesses like Mosaic and Blonde but feels changes like this will turn him away.
“This is so frustrating. I would rather support the smaller shops and restaurants downtown, but paying for parking is definitely a deterrent and makes going for a cup of coffee a lot more expensive.”
“This is just one of the many reasons I avoid downtown at all cost. I feel bad for business owner’s downtown,” added Calvin.
Others we spoke to were a little more level headed feeling the first increase in 20-years is necessary for growth.
“Come on people, realize prices have to go up to support infrastructure as incomes, fuel, utilities etc. all increase. I can't believe they are still as low as they are in Kelowna and should have been increased years ago,” said Ann.
And Terrance P. wanted to remind Kelowna how relatively cheap parking still is.
“Do people in Kelowna understand the outside world? Those rates are still very cheap.”
But the Kelowna Downtown Business Association does not feel it will hurt small businesses.
Executive Director Peggy Athans says they recognize a raise is not what businesses owners want to see, but say the changes will not deter shoppers from heading downtown.
“We don’t like seeing fees rise but if we want to plan for the future and have our parking needs met in the future we have to be able to cover the costs,” said Athans.
She told Castanet the change in parking availability and parking rates will not hurt local businesses and is entirely reasonable considering what other cities charge.
“I mean we are the third largest city in British Columbia and other cities of our size do not have paid parking? I mean look at what we pay compared to Vancouver or Vernon, Penticton, Calgary, we were extremely low,” added Athans.
Here is a look at how the parking rates will be affected, for more information click here to read our article outlining the changes.
The new base rates for off-street parking lots are suggested as follows:
|Parking Type||Today||Recommended Base|
|Hourly||$0.50 to $1.00||$1.00|
|Daily||$3.00 to $5.25||$5.00|
|Monthly||$35.72 to $65.00||$53.00 to $66.00|
|Reserved||$83.02 to $88.00||$99.00|