Pay parking planned for Harrison

Harrison Council hopes pay parking will help offset beach maintenance costs

Pay parking is coming to Harrison.

At least, that’s what the Harrison Hot Springs Council has agreed to in theory following a discussion at Monday evening’s Council meeting.

“We can’t continuously rely on the taxpayer to cover the costs of everything in our community,” stated Mayor Leo Facio. “It’s something that will hopefully alleviate the costs borne by the taxpayers for the maintenance of all our green spaces, especially the front promenade.”

Council voted all in favour to implement pay parking for the spring of 2016 for selected streets in the village core. Options and details will be investigated further by staff in the coming months. The current plan is to implement pay parking on Esplanade Avenue, St. Alice Street north, Maple Street north, Cedar Street north and Spruce Street north.

Councillor Sonja Reyerse provided detailed feedback on her vote in favour.

“It’s costing the village $180,000 per year in beach maintenance,” said Reyerse. “That’s 10 per cent of our operating budget. It’s huge. We have a very small tax base and our alternative is to considerably increase property taxes, forcing our residents to pay for the upkeep of our beaches for the use of the day-trippers.”

She says pay parking will provide turnover on “the most valuable piece of real estate” in Harrison, while giving free options within easy walking distance for people wiling to park further back from the beach such as on Lillooet Avenue or the grass parking area by the village office.

“The result should be minimal to no decrease in tourism,” she states.

Councillors John Hansen, John Buckley and Samantha Piper echoed those sentiments.

Furthermore, Council went back on an earlier decision to establish time-limited parking areas for this season. Lisa Grant, manager of development and community services, presented a report to Council with the costs to put up time-restricted parking signs.

“Staff undertook a comprehensive site inspection to determine costs of implementing a time restricted parking system,” Grant writes in her report. “This included detailed mapping identifying sign locations, the number of new signs, and sign and post combinations.”

Staff’s estimate for sign installation would be $34,800 for time-restricted parking signs along Esplanade Avenue, St. Alice Street, Lillooet Avenue west, Maple Street, Cedar Avenue and Chehalis Street. Enforcement for the new signage was estimated at $117,530 per year, or $49,266 over the summer.

“If Council endorses this option, ticketing only allows for cost recovery for the service delivery. As a result, costs to install the signage cannot be recovered in the ticketing price for violators,” writes Grant.

Based on the staff information, Council agreed to retract their earlier decision to undertake time-limited parking for Harrison this year.

“It would be irresponsible for us to say go ahead and do that and then scrap it until next year,” said Hansen. “So we take the time this year, we move forward and make sure we do it right the first time.”

During questions from the public, former councillor Allan Jackson said he was “very disappointed” with Council. He said by implementing pay parking in only a portion of Harrison’s downtown core, it gives an advantage to one set of businesses and takes it away from another set.

“The village needs every penny they can get,” said Jackson, adding they are choosing to give up at least 60 per cent more revenue by not implementing pay parking on Lillooet Avenue.

“Implement pay parking for the whole village and see what happens,” Jackson urged.