Victoria to end free Sunday street parking starting in May

Free Sunday street parking in Victoria will be a thing of the past come May.

“The decision is to charge for parking on-street on Sundays, keep the parkades free and use the revenue generated to fund transit passes for kids in the city of Victoria, 18-and-under,” Mayor Lisa Helps said.

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Annual revenue from the change is “very conservatively” estimated at $600,000, she said.

Helps said she doesn’t expect a lot of pushback, calling the move “a common-sense solution” from many perspectives.

“What businesses found on Sundays is that there was not a lot of turnover in front of their stores because a lot of employees can park for free on the streets, and they do,” she said.

“So now employees can move into the parkades, they can still park for free.

“Businesses will see more spots available, more turnover in front of their stores on-street, and the proceeds will be [used] to inculcate a whole new generation of transit users.”

The decision on Sunday parking was made at a committee meeting as part of the city’s budget deliberations, Helps said.

“It was supported unanimously at committee,” she said.

“I think it’s one of those proposals that just really resonates and makes sense, and so I don’t imagine that anyone’s going to pull it out to object to it when we wrap up the budget.”

Certain aspects of the measure need to be pinned down.

“We still need to figure out the exact cost to offer transit to kids,” she said. “We’ll need to work that out with B.C. Transit and figure out precisely how many kids there are between the ages of six and 18 who live in the city of Victoria.”

Helps said the city is confident the cost can be covered by the parking revenue. Youth transit passes will likely be introduced as a back-to-school item in September.

She said that supporters of the Sunday change include the Downtown Victoria Business Association, which has been a backer from the outset.

“There was some concern from churchgoers that they would have to pay for parking coming into the downtown, but they don’t.”

Free city parkades take care of that, Helps said.

Business consultant Frank Bourree of Chemistry Consulting urged the city to consider citizens who drive downtown and drink, then leave vehicles on the streets overnight to retrieve them Sunday morning.

Those people have “a bit of leeway” for getting to their vehicles, he said. It’s “fair enough” if Victoria imposes Sunday pay parking, “but do it later in the morning for that reason.”

Helps said an added consideration of charging for Sunday street parking is climate change. “We are in a climate crisis. For the City of Victoria, our single largest carbon-reduction strategy is to get people walking, cycling and using transit.”

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