UPDATE SEPT 29 2023:
Discussion around this report was deferred by Council at the September 28th meeting, until the next Council meeting on Wednesday Oct 18th where this report will re-appear on the agenda. Here is some news coverage of the agenda item:
The Town’s paid parking program was last revisited by Council under two separate reports in 2022: CSR-2022-42, dated June 15, 2022 and CSR-2022-48, dated July 13,2022. Council approved the following changes to the program on July 13, 2022, as outlined in CSR-2022-48.
To understand where we are with parking, and what options are before us next Wednesday, I encourage you to read this report carefully: https://midland.civicweb.net/document/45748/CSR-2023-69%20Parking%20Update%20and%20Considerations_Fina.pdf
There is no such thing as “free” parking but I am coming as close as I can from a public perspective with my recommendation at the bottom of this article. If you want a barrier free (no machines) user experience, someone is going to pay for it. The question is who?Bill Gordon
Summary: What We Have Now
The changes came into effect September 15, 2022, after a 3-month paid parking pause:
• Free parking 7 days per week in all downtown parking lots excluding Harbour.
• Free Parking in December
• Pete Pettersen Boat Launch $100 resident pass / Pay Per Use Non-Residents
• Paid on-street parking six days per week at $1.00 per hour, between the hours of 9-5pm.
• Paid Harbour parking seven days per week at $1.50 per hour between the hours of 9-5pm.
• Paid Parking expanded to Bayshore Drive.
• Seasonal Boat Slip Parking Passes at Harbour, $99.00 per season effective 2023.
• Pay-by-Plate system converted to Pay and Display
Council also directed staff to evaluate the ability to generate event-based revenues through paid parking, and to report back on the pilot program in September 2023. Subsequent to the July 13, 2022, changes, Council passed a motion on September 28, 2022, to provide free parking to Midland seniors aged 65+ at the Midland Harbour parking lot effective January 1, 2023.
Financial Implications After One Full Year
We are losing money and are $250,000 in the negative for 2023, that will have to be paid by the taxpayers. The system costs money to install, maintain, operate and collect coins from as well as for enforcement and manage disputes at Town hall and in court.
If we intend to just “break even”, instead of using parking as a tool to provide tax relief, then we need to make changes to the system and fees.
If we intend to actually “make some money” off parking downtown, to help provide tax relief, then we need to make changes to the systems and fees.
Status Quo is financially irresponsible as we are nowhere close to cost-recovery of the system and the supports needed to keep it running.
Based on the financials for the first full year of the program, additional revenue of almost $250,000 is required to recover our costs (i.e., break-even). To raise an additional $250,000 in revenue a rate increase of $3.50 (on-street) and $5.00/hour (Harbour) is required. Any additional rate increase would provide tax-relief in the 2024 budget.
Overview Of Public Parking Downtown
Options For Consideration In The Report
I strongly encourage you to read the report to understand these options: https://midland.civicweb.net/document/45748/CSR-2023-69%20Parking%20Update%20and%20Considerations_Fina.pdf
Free parking for those with a valid accessible parking permit for on-street paid parking and at the Harbour parking lot, providing moderate cost saving and convenience for customers with valid permits.
Terminal improvements (rotate away from direct sun & try to work with the vendor on interface improvements to make it easier to operate – however our interface is the same as every other municipality that uses these exact same terminals, including Barrie)
Identify and promote the use of app payment options by adding HotSpot and Parkedin logo stickers to machines.
Increase staff presence downtown during peak times (e.g., staff ambassadors wearing ‘Ask Me’ shirts) to assist customers having trouble with machines. Staff ambassadors could also provide local tourism information.
Remove the Option to Pay with Coin (this is costing us lots of money and 50% of all transactions are coin)
Phase out Midland Seniors’ Free Harbour Parking (we are losing lots of revenue and the admin costs of this add to our losses)
Increase hourly rate to $3.50 per hour On-Street and $5 per hour ($50 daily max) at the Harbour
Another Option: Eliminate Paid Parking & Pass The Losses To Our Ratepayers
Under this option, all municipally owned parking spaces downtown would be free 7 days per week during operating hours. Overnight parking would not be permitted per the bylaw. Paid parking would remain in effect at Pete Pettersen Boat Launch for non-residents to allow for some cost recovery to help maintain the boat launch facilities. Under this option, all but one of the paid parking terminals could be returned to the vendor at $0.22 (2022 rate) on the dollar, or to an interested 3rd party for a negotiated price. After 2 years of ownership, this asset disposal would trigger a loss on disposal of $396,000 in 2023 for accounting purposes.
But There Is Another Option… and I believe this to be fair.
Eliminate the paid parking program and make it “free” (aka subsidized) and implement a special area levy (aka special tax), payable by downtown benefiting property owners (estimated at $780 annually/average property) instead of passing the costs along to every ratepayer in Midland.
Before we implemented this option, I would want to have a special public consultation meeting with the downtown property owners (including BIA which does not represent all of the downtown core) to discuss this plan. Years past, the BIA contributed funds to the “Midland Parking Authority” to help offset the parking costs. I am proposing we revisit that model but expand it to the entire downtown core. We have long heard that the merchants want to have free parking downtown and that the machines are a disincentive to shoppers. This solves that problem. No more machines and the beneficiaries of the shoppers pay the costs (not making us any profit) for the parking.
I believe this Special Area Levy is a good plan and to be clear, I proposed it to staff. It eliminates paid parking as a barrier to business (perceived and/or real), eliminates our continued losses (after we get past the initial capital costs), lets us recoup the real costs of the lot maintenance, insurance and the taxes we have to pay for these lots, and moves those costs onto the taxes of the group that ultimately benefits from downtown parking… that being the building owners who rent to businesses and residents or operate their own businesses. Some of these businesses have their own parking (albeit limited in most cases) but they all benefit from a busy downtown with no barriers to where residents and visitors park to avail themselves of their services and those of their neighbours. Signs could indicate free parking courtesy of downtown Midland shops and services.
We will find other ways, rest assured, to raise desperately-needed revenues to offset tax increases, but paid parking downtown has been poorly-received and loathed since it was re-implemented after the main street re-construction and after a two year hiatus through the pandemic.
The paid parking would remain at the boat launch and I’d argue that it should remain at the town dock lot as that is the primary destination for tourism and is a premium lot and even along Bayshore Drive – the downtown levy would only pay for the downtown parking and not the other sites. We could also see paid parking for non-residents at our future splash pad (up for debate this budget cycle) and other non-resident fees to help with our costs.
I would encourage you to reach out to your councillors ASAP with your thoughts (after reading the report) to help guide the debate that will ensue this coming Wednesday evening.
Local news coverage on CTV Barrie: