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City hosts open house for downtown parking

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The City of Sault Ste. Marie is hosting two public open houses to receive feedback regarding the two-hour free parking in downtown municipal parking lots.

Date: Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: Thompson Room, Level 3, Civic Centre, 99 Foster Drive

Since 2005, the two-hour free downtown parking program has had an annual cost of $190,000. Costs associated with providing municipal parking include lighting, signs, landscaping, snow and litter removal, line painting, enforcement, insurance, and pavement re-surfacing.

To eliminate this cost, the City is considering a move to a full user-pay downtown parking program similar to the existing on-street pay parking in Sault Ste. Marie and used by other northern and southern Ontario municipalities.

The public is welcome to attend either public open house on February 8, 2017 to learn more about the proposed plan.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the reason or purpose for replacing the two-hour free parking in the downtown parking lots?

Since 2005, it has cost City taxpayers $190,000 per year to provide free two-hour free parking. This cost is a financial concern by City Council and is not sustainable anymore given the other service priorities of the City.

I thought parking is free to provide, so why discontinue the two-hour free parking program downtown?

There is no such thing as free parking. Parking has costs of snow and litter removal, lighting, landscaping, signs, enforcement (to achieve compliance with by-laws), line painting, pavement resurfacing and insurance. Even at malls, these costs exist and are paid through by the tenants who in turn pass on the costs through the price of goods and services.

Has the discontinuation of the two-hour free parking in the downtown parking lots been approved by City Council, or are there additional approvals required?

The discontinuation of two-hour free parking downtown has not yet been approved. If approved, full user pay parking in the downtown parking lots is expected to be operational by the end of 2022 in order to provide enough time to order and install parking revenue control equipment and signs in the parking lots.

How much annual revenue is expected and what is the estimated implementation cost?

We anticipate $190,000 in annual revenue. The estimated cost would be for parking pay and display or pay by license plate machines in the parking lots combined with a pay by cellular phone payment app. The implementation budget is estimated at $200,000 spread across 2017 through 2022.

Where will the additional revenue go?

The revenues from full user-pay parking will be accounted for in the City's annual Parking operating and capital budgets in order to make parking a self-funded non-tax supported program. Any excess fund balance from the operating and capital budgets may be transferred to a parking reserve fund to cover future maintenance costs of parking (i.e. pavement re-surfacing, equipment and lighting refurbishment and replacement, parking lot expansion, etc.).

When will full user-pay parking become effective in the downtown lots?

If approved by City Council, the schedule will be determined at Council meeting with a tentative target to complete the installation of equipment, technology and signs in all ten (10) municipal parking lots by the end of 2022.

What will the hourly rates cost us for parking in the downtown lots?

Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. rates are $1.25 per hour or a $5 daily maximum. Free parking will continue on weekdays after 6 p.m., and all day on Saturdays and Sundays.

Will there continue to be monthly and annual parking passes for those who regularly park in the downtown lots?

Yes, as today, monthly and annual parking passes will continue to be available for purchase. However, a 10% annual rate increase is proposed each year over the next 5 years as part of the plan to make parking non-tax supported and subject to City Council approval.

What other funding sources may be available to pay for the two-hour free parking program instead of user-fees?

Without parking user-fees, other possible sources of funding to pay for the two-hour free parking program are: a) Obtain funding from the downtown businesses to cover the cost of the two-hour free parking, or b) Increase property taxes to cover the cost of the two-hour free parking. A 'do-nothing' approach is not feasible because the costs of parking must be covered by a funding source.

How can I stay informed regarding progress with this plan and be able to ask questions or seek clarification?

The public is welcome to attend one of two public information meetings to be held at the Civic Centre, Thompson Room - Level 3, on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. The first session is from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the second session is from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. City staff will be present with information and to answer any questions.
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99 Foster Drive
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
P6A 5X6