Top News

Halifax business owner calls proposed parking meter ticket hike to $50 'ridiculous'

A car parked in the downtown core sports a parking ticket Thursday.
A car parked in the downtown core sports a parking ticket Thursday.

A downtown Halifax business owner is calling the idea to hike some parking tickets to $50 “ridiculous,” but the municipality says it could cut down on people hogging street parking all day.

Gordon Stevens, founder of the Uncommon Group, said he was surprised to see staff recommend the minimum ticket price go up to $50 for meter infractions in a presentation made to regional council's committee of whole on Wednesday.

Gordon Stevens, founder of the Uncommon Group, said he was surprised to see staff recommend the minimum ticket price go up to $50 for meter infractions in a presentation made to regional council's committee of whole on Wednesday.

“It’s completely ridiculous. We’ve been fighting ... the perception that parking is a problem in downtown,” Stevens said Thursday.

“With all the complaints that businesses have had about HRM and construction mitigation and everything else, you would think that the last thing they’d want to do is to just give people another reason not to go downtown - but that’s precisely what they’re doing.”

Chief city planner, Bob Bjerke, presented the proposed 2017-18 multi-year budget and business plan, which included the suggestion to bring up minimum parking meter ticket fines from $25 to $50 to fall more in line with the rest of the country.

According to the presentation, Moncton tickets start at $45, Ottawa $40, Toronto and Calgary $30, and Vancouver $70.

HRM spokesman Brendan Elliott said staff’s perspective is that $25 isn’t enough of a consequence for people to follow the rules, and an increase would make people “think twice” before they decided to let their meters run out, or feed the meter all day with their car in the same spot.

When asked about Stevens’ concerns about the change scaring people away, Elliott said HRM takes a different view that businesses would rather see parking spots “cycled through” by many people staying for short periods of time, rather than visitors getting discouraged to see certain cars parking in one spot all day.

“That’s not a space that someone who is coming down to do some shopping would be able to use,” Elliott said.

“We are really trying to encourage people that when the parking limit is done, that they move and allow for someone else to come in.”

However, Stevens said it’s not likely the change would target those “repeat offenders” since they’re already used to moving spaces throughout the day.

“This doesn’t change that behaviour in the least. If anything it’ll make it worse because they’re more diligent about not getting a ticket,” he said.

The people who will be hit the hardest are those running back from visiting local shops a few blocks away and might buy a couple minutes over their meter time, Stevens said.

The hike could come to regional council sometime soon for a vote, but would only apply to tickets from meter infractions since HRM can’t change tickets related to fire hydrants, loading zones, or “parking over time specified” areas like 30 minutes or an hour, without provincial approval.

The Downtown Halifax Business Commission released a Downtown Parking Pitch on Thursday, referencing concerns with a ticket hike and suggesting alternatives like: a mobile parking app; pay-by-plate; integrated pricing between on and off-street parking; limited free, off-street parking; rational enforcement; reinvestment of parking revenues; variable parking signs; and a Downtown shuttle.

Recent Stories