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New parking regime a winner for City of Victoria

Victoria’s new “parking ambassadors” are issuing fewer parking tickets than their predecessors, but the city’s new parking regime is making up the lost revenue and generating goodwill, say city staff.
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A City of Victoria parking ambassador at work on Wharf Street.

 

Victoria’s new “parking ambassadors” are issuing fewer parking tickets than their predecessors, but the city’s new parking regime is making up the lost revenue and generating goodwill, say city staff.

With more people parking on the street and in city parkades, city staff forecast that parking revenue for the year will be $500,000 to $900,000 more than budgeted.

About 18 months ago, the city introduced a parking plan that lowered rates in parkades, making the first hour free, and tightened parkade security. It was designed to free up spaces on streets by luring drivers into parking garages.

Victoria also brought parking enforcement in-house, dropping its $1-million-a-year contract with the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires and hiring 23 customer-service-oriented parking ambassadors. They began work in January.

About 5,000 fewer parking tickets have been issued so far in 2016, but city staff anticipate that the total for the year will match 2015 numbers as parking ambassadors gain experience.

Fewer tickets have been cancelled. There were 14,936 cancellations between January and June, compared with 16,502 in the same period in 2015. City staff said the reduction is due in part to “better interactions with the public where no ticket is written.”

“We are receiving very positive feedback and far fewer complaints,” Katie Hamilton, director of citizen engagement, told councillors. “We’re also seeing higher transactions, which generally means higher turnover on the street and in our parkades.” That has translated into more revenue for the city, she said. “It’s generally coming from those who are paying for parking [and] not necessarily from tickets.”

The city’s five parkades are averaging a total of about 122,000 transactions a month this year, about 15,000 more than last year. Parkades are typically reaching capacity between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. daily. As well, the city is seeing about 2,000 more on-street parking transactions downtown each month.

“At the same time, we’re seeing high enough turnover that there are spots available, and we have a very healthy turnover rate on street,” Hamilton said.

The team of blue-shirted parking ambassadors has provided the city with 23 additional sets of eyes and ears, Hamilton said, resulting in between 35 and 45 calls a month for crews to respond to traffic issues, broken glass or garbage cans in need of cleanup.

Parking ambassadors have helped police identify stolen vehicles, responded to infants left in cars and assisted people with dementia to reconnect with their families, she said.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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