White Rock city council reached a compromise Monday night on its plans to raise summer parking rates along the waterfront. Rather than $4 per hour during the peak season, the cost to park for one hour will rise from $3.25 to $3.75 from April to September. Council will vote on the rate change on July 8. (File photo)

White Rock council opts for compromise in waterfront parking fee increase

Amendment calls for hourly rates of $3.75 instead of $4 from April to September

White Rock council has balked at raising summertime parking rates at the waterfront to a high of $4 per hour.

But it has endorsed a new compromise proposal from parking task force chair Coun. Christopher Trevelyan that would see summertime waterfront parking – April through September – rise to $3.75 per hour from the current $3.25 rate.

At Monday night’s meeting council voted down third and final reading on a parking bylaw amendment that would have imposed the $4 rate, but would also have provided free weekday parking in the winter between November and February.

“It still feels too much to ding our residents and visitors for $4 – it seems too much,” said Coun. Scott Kristjanson, during extended debate on the issue.

The amendment was ultimately rescinded, council instead giving first and second readings to a new amendment proposed by Trevelyan, setting the $3.75 rate, and limiting free winter weekday parking to November, December and January.

Final reading of the new amendment would have to be given at the next regular council meeting, on July 8, after which, if passed, the new rates would come into effect immediately.

Trevelyan said rates would “otherwise be the same” as the earlier amendment, which had been re-endorsed by the parking task force after a recent meeting to review the matter.

That would include the same day rate of $15 for the new parkade, falling to $7.50 during ‘shoulder’ months of October, February and March, as well as a $2 per-hour rate during winter weekends, and all week during the shoulder months.

READ ALSO: White Rock council driving at two months of free waterfront parking

READ ALSO: Free hospital parking a non-starter in White Rock

The rate of $3.25 would remain during the summer in ‘value priced’ parking west of Oxford Street, Trevelyan said.

He rejected impassioned arguments from Coun. David Chesney that raising parking fees was being done only to enable free winter parking – which Chesney continued to assert had not been conclusively proven to have any value in helping waterfront businesses.

“It’s a factor, but not the only one,” said Trevelyan, who pointed out that staff would likely recommend an increase in parking rates sooner than later.

Financial services director Sandra Kurylo confirmed that costs of providing waterfront parking – including operating the new parkade, which will cost $101,000 for 2019 – make a deficit more likely.

“At $3.25 (per hour), with no free parking, we will not make budget,” she said. “It would have to go up to $3.75.”

But, in answering questions from council, Kurylo stressed the virtual impossibility of predicting how the public will respond to the new parking provided this year, or other impacting factors such as weather conditions. Estimates based on 2016 parking usage, she said, show a close margin between making a profit and running a deficit.

“There are so many variables,” she said.

Chesney, who voted against the new amendment, said he believes an upward creep of parking rates is dangerous for the city.

“As we push up the prices higher and higher, people are not going to come here,” he warned. “We should be working to get parking rates to go down, not up.”

“I love coming to White Rock, but I hate pay parking,” Kristjanson said, noting that it makes White Rock less attractive in contrast to competing destinations such as Crescent Beach, Fort Langley and even Whistler, where parking is free.

Note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that free weekday parking months would be December, January and February, and that shoulder months would be October, November and March.



alexbrowne@peacearchnews.com

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