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Pay-parking hours to be extended in downtown Victoria starting May 1

City council voted Thursday to extend downtown paid-parking hours to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and increase the rates for all parking spaces
Pay parking kiosk on Douglas Street in Victoria. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Starting May 1, drivers coming into Victoria’s downtown will no longer have the luxury of free parking early in the morning or into the evening.

That’s when the city will start enforcing paid parking from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. for all 90-minute and two-hour zones and parkades. Pay parking is currently in effect between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday in the parkades and daily on the street.

City council voted Thursday to extend downtown paid-parking hours and increase the hourly and daily rates for all parking spaces. Daily and hourly rates will increase by 50 cents an hour for most spaces.

The new rules, which received third reading at Victoria council Thursday, are expected to be adopted next week and come into effect May 1.

The proceeds from the extended parking hours and increased fees will be used to reduce the property-tax increase in this year’s budget and pay for downtown beautification, maintenance, cultural opportunities, new public parks and amenities.

It will also be used to fund a pilot project that will increase police street patrols.

Early estimates suggest the measures could generate more than $1.9 million in additional parking revenue.

The initiative was not approved unanimously. Councillors Chris Coleman and Marg Gardiner maintained their opposition Thursday, saying the changes would send the message that people are less welcome downtown. They also said council did not investigate what impact the measure could have.

For example, Coleman said, business groups that meet in the morning for breakfast could start looking outside the downtown for new venues.

“It does give a ‘you’re not welcome downtown’ type of feel to a lot of people,” said Gardiner. “It gave me the [feeling] that we’re doing something on the fly, without looking at the impacts on others. The impacts on others was not taken in account for this.”

Coun. Jeremy Caradonna acknowledged there will be an adjustment period, but said extending pay parking is unlikely to affect people’s behavior. “But what this will do is generate significant income that we can pour back into our downtown with events, festivals, fares, safety, activating streets.”

Parkades will remain free on Sundays.

More than 60 per cent of the city’s revenue comes from ­taxation, while user fees account for 19 per cent and parking fees and fines make up about seven per cent.

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