You’ll pay $2 an hour for Sunday parking in downtown Victoria

Motorists will have to pay to park downtown seven days a week beginning May 1, now that Victoria councillors have endorsed pay parking on Sundays.

Councillors agreed to charge for Sunday street parking downtown, at the reduced rate of $2 an hour, and set a limit of four hours in any one spot. Street parking downtown costs $3 an hour the rest of the week and motorists are limited to 90 minutes.

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Susanne Thompson, city director of finance, said the recommended Sunday parking rate of $2 an hour in the inner zones and $1 an hour in the outlying areas is based on lower expected demand. On Sundays, most professional offices and some businesses are closed and typical retail businesses have reduced hours, she said.

Parking in city parkades will remain free on Sundays.

“We are assuming that some who currently park on the streets will go into the parkades instead to avoid having to pay,” Thompson said

Warning tickets will be issued in some cases for the first month or so as the change comes into effect, she said, but repeat offenders could be ticketed during the grace period.

“It’s not intended to be an extra month free. It is intended to be educational, so we will monitor that,” Thompson said.

While city staff had recommended no time limit for Sunday parking, council, on a recommendation from Mayor Lisa Helps, decided on the four-hour maximum.

“Four hours is a lot of time. If people want to stay longer, obviously, they can stay all day and go park for free in the parkade, but limitless doesn’t sit quite right,” Helps said. “I think four hours is a good compromise between 90 minutes and limitless.”

Coun. Ben Isitt argued against the four-hour limit.

“Assuming staff do envision there being extra capacity, if somebody wants to pay and keep plugging the meter all day, I’d be inclined to let them.”

The introduction of Sunday pay parking is expected to generate about $500,000 a year, which councillors decided should be used to give free transit passes to Victoria youths under age 18 — a measure staff say could cost about $1 million a year.

Helps said Victoria might not have to use parking revenue for transit if a push to encourage B.C. Transit to supply free transit passes for all students in the capital region is successful.

She said the issue is expected to come up at the Victoria Regional Transit Commission’s strategic planning session on April 29. “So it may be this parking revenue can go directly into a climate-action reserve or some other thing if we fund transit for all students in the region without having to use our parking revenues,” Helps said.

Street parking remains free evenings after 6 p.m. and on holidays.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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