It’s a hot button issue that hasn’t been sitting well with Lethbridge, Alta., residents and businesses.
After receiving pushback from the public, council directed administration to work with the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) and the Heart of Our City Committee (HOCC) to identify possible solutions.
On Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023, City of Lethbridge parking coordinator Phillip Berg presented several of those recommendations in the form of a two-year pilot program to the Economic and Finance Standing Policy Committee (SPC).
“What was settled upon was that we reduce the fines from $50 to $40 and provide a $20 reduction,” said Berg. “We’d also increase from seven days to 10 days that grace period.”
Road construction rolls on in downtown Lethbridge
Other proposals include enforcement changes in the downtown, like paid parking hours reduced from the current 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., down to 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Extending the enforcement grace period from three minutes to seven minutes, which aligns with other municipalities, is also on the table.
Additionally, there would be an enhanced maintenance program for kiosks downtown.
Executive director of the Downtown BRZ, Sarah Amies, says a survey of downtown businesses found an interest in creating more long-term stalls.
“I personally engaged with 92 businesses, around those businesses who are located within Zone Two …and 88 per cent said absolutely let’s get rid of Zone Two and replace it with Zone Three.”
Zone Two stalls currently allow for a maximum of two-hour parking, with Zone Three having a three-hour max, meaning if passed there would only be Zone Three and Zone 10 downtown.
Lethbridge film highlights the positives of downtown
Amies explained that over the course of the three engagement meetings, it was really great to work collaboratively with the HOCC and administration.
“More than that was we all came from very differing points of view with differing agenda items and yet we managed as sensible, intelligent people to come together to come up with some solutions that are going to benefit all,” said Amies. “So, I’d just like to thank the collegiality of those other groups in working with us.”
Another incentive brought forward by the BRZ and HOCC would be to provide free downtown core parking initiative days, with future consultation plans to decide on dates.
Owner of Meadow Lane, Kent Just believes that most of the recommendations are positive but potentially more could be done to help out the local businesses.
“It’s getting expensive to park downtown. We’re still trying to bounce back from COVID and businesses are still closing because of it,” said Just. “We’re losing customers daily because of parking, all we’re asking is to give us a break on the parking.”
Multi-faceted construction project underway in downtown Lethbridge
He went on to suggest getting rid of parking during the holiday shopping season to encourage more traffic downtown.
Among the list of recommendations from the BRZ and HOCC, include free parking initiative days as part of the project, with consultations to finalize those details.
Lethbridge city council will review and give first reading on the recommendations on Nov. 28.
If approved, an education campaign would be launched with the changes coming into effect on February 1, 2023.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.