A new payment method rolling out across city-owned parkades that’s intended to cut down on clogged entrances and exits is also reducing the number of spots available for an hour of free parking.
Under the pay-by-space system, drivers pay using the ParkVictoria app or at a pay station, similar to on-street parking. At parkades with the system, drivers will no longer need to pay at an exit booth and wait for a barrier to swing up.
Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, said the new system makes it much more efficient to get in and out of the parkades. “Sometimes you’d be lined up, trying to get out because it just took a while for people to pay and get through the gate,” he said.
Bray said the only potential issue with the changes is the reduction of spaces where drivers can park for an hour for free. He would like to see as many of those spaces as possible. While the reduction isn’t currently having a significant impact, Bray said when office workers and tourists return downtown in force, there could be challenges.
The ParkVictoria app does not allow for a first hour free, so the city has allocated several spots on lower levels of parkades where drivers can park for up to one hour without paying before they have to move their vehicle, said Sheldon Johnson, manager of engagement for the City of Victoria. Similar to street parking, drivers who stay longer than one hour could receive a ticket.
There are 12 spaces for one-hour free parking in the Johnson Street parkade, 11 in Centennial Square and 24 in Broughton Street. In the View Street parkade, expected to make the switch soon, there are 63 spaces planned where drivers can park for up to one hour without paying.
The city is monitoring the spaces to ensure there’s adequate turnover and could increase the number of spaces if it sees a need, Johnson said.
Bray said the frustration for people driving downtown is not a lack of parking. “There is lots of parking. It’s being able to find where it is,” he said. He would like to see a sign on Blanshard Street as drivers approach downtown that provides a live update on how many spots are available in each parkade.
The pay-by-space system was brought in first to the Johnson Street parkade last fall and is intended to avoid the traffic jams that drivers experienced trying to get in and out during peak times, Johnson said.
The hourly rates have also been reduced and will be consistent across all five city parkades once the payment system rolls out fully, set at $2 per hour. In the View Street and Bastion Square parkades, which have not yet implemented the pay-by-space system, parking is free for the first hour, $2 for hours two and three, and $3 per hour for the fourth hour and up. Day rates in those parkades are $14.50 compared with $12 in the Johnson Street, Centennial Square and Broughton Street parkades.
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