I have been receiving questions and concerns about recent increases to fees for downtown parking permits. Here is some context:
The City has an approved Parking Master Plan. This was put together over many years to tackle the construction of new parking and to have enough funds to pay for any repairs.
The revenue to pay for the Master Plan was to come from three sources:
- The general tax base across every home and business in the city
- Increased parking permit fees
- Reinstating paid on-street parking.
Last year when this was proposed, the Downtown Guelph Business Association and several downtown businesses asked Council not to implement paid on-street parking, because they said it would threaten businesses’ financial viability and ability to attract customers. Council agreed, and decided not to implement paid on-street parking at this time. This decision created a $1.2 million shortfall in funding, of which $600,000 was identified to come from increased permit fees. Here is a link to more information about the Master Plan and its financing model: Downtown Parking Master Plan.
Fast forward to the City budget approved a couple of weeks ago. Before the vote, I heard from some permit holders about these potential increases, and I made it clear that I would be willing to consider a phased in approach over two years for these fees so as to not have such a huge impact in one year. Yet Council as a whole passed it as-is. This means that both parking permit fees and the overall tax base are both increasing to make up the shortfall.
This cannot be reversed unless a councillor moves to reconsider the matter, but that is a very difficult process to have happen. I can tell you this, though: as soon as I cut the ribbon on the new Wilson parkade, and we welcome an extra 400 parking spots to our downtown core, I plan to bring forward a renewed conversation with Council about revenue models for the Parking Master Plan. This includes a conversation about fees for parking permits, and on-street paid parking.
I understand that the fee increases are significant, and I truly empathize. But Council has decided that this is the path we are taking at this time in order to implement the downtown parking master plan.