Letter: Plenty of questions regarding pay parking issue

Business owners don't believe pay parking will solve any problems in Harrison Hot Springs

(Editor’s Note: A shortened version of this letter ran in the Jan. 25, 2013 print edition of the Observer, with mention that the letter would be included in full on this website.)

I attended the open house regarding pay parking for the village of Harrison.

While I understand it is still only a proposal, this is what I understand is being proposed.

• 43 parking meters throughout the village from May to September at a cost of $17,200.00 a month to be paid by the village.

• All money collected from the machines will go to the village. No one knows how much this will be as it will depend on how many visitors and how long they stay. BUT – the cost for the equipment, etc. – $17,200.00 a month (if they go with this plan) must first be paid from the collected money and it is a fixed cost.

• The parking charge of $1.00 per half hour is what is proposed. You can buy 15 minutes if you want and up to a maximum of $8 – machines will be in operation from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

• The parking company will have their own staff here to monitor the meters – 8 hours a day, 7 days a week at $15 per hour (this cost is included in the monthly charge). This means that for 4 hours each day the staff will not be watching to see that the pay parking is being purchased.

Village residents will be issued one parking pass. There was talk about being able to access additional passes from the village office if you are having company. Will the village office have to hire additional staff to oversee the parking issues? Can we afford additional staff? and at what cost? Does the staff not have enough to do already without having the job of issuing parking passes for all residents of the village and keeping track of this?

Who will be issued this free parking pass? Only taxpayers? What about people renting apartments or condos or living at the RV resorts, etc. and how will this be determined.

Agassiz, Harrison Mills, Seabird Island, Chehalis, our extended community, will have to pay to park. Over the years the businesses, along with the Chamber of Commerce have worked hard to encourage the residents/businesses of these communities to support each other, attend each others events, use each other facilities, put advertising in the Observer newspaper and Tourism Harrison publication.

Agassiz area residents – in the months where pay parking is in effect (if this is implemented) – will have to pay for parking. This is a travesty.

The council should think long and hard about this.

I own a business in Harrison and there are many issues about the effect pay parking will have on our businesses but I also live in the District of Kent – I think there may be others in this situation – I pay taxes in Harrison and my family has paid taxes in Harrison for 50 years but I will now have to pay to come to Harrison, to go to the hairdresser, go to the grocery store, go for a walk on the beach and if I do not get back to my parking spot in time and my purchased time runs out, I will get a parking ticket on top if it all.

Not a great scenario for our long time community relationship with the District of Kent.

When I asked where the money will go from the pay parking I was told the village budget was balanced and that the extra money would possibly go to more beach projects or to put on special events. The village should not be in the business of putting on special events, there are others organizations for that and there is money budgeted now for the beach. The Village also receives $300,000.00 coming from the Tourism Harrison room tax to be used for tourism related infrastructure projects.

There is enough money coming into the village now to cover all the costs of the beach (the business community pays the majority of the taxes in the village) and the beach is enjoyed by village residents as well as visitors.

I really cannot understand why they would want to jeopardize the business community and create an unhealthy climate in our village and between our communities by instituting pay parking.

If this goes ahead – the pay parking company will take $17,200.00 a month out of the village ($17,200.00 which might instead have been spent in our stores and restaurants, etc.) After the expense of putting the machines in the village all it will have cost the pay parking company to make this money in our village will be the cost of a business licence. They do not have to pay taxes all year as we do, they will not be hiring anyone locally, they will not be paying rent or buying a business here.

The business community will be left explaining to tourists and local area residents about pay parking. We will bear the brunt of the effect of this decision while the pay parking company will go on their way – they do not have a vested interest in our community – they will pick up their money every month and that money will leave the village.

You will be told that the village will get what is left after they pay the parking company their $17,200.00 per month and they quote some large figures – but they are only a guess and dependent on how many people come to the village each day, how long they stay, if they stay at all. In the end if the business community struggles further from this decision what have you really gained.

As I said earlier, if the village is not dependent on this money, if their budget is balanced – why are they wanting to implement this unnecessary – unpopular idea.

This is certainly not creating a harmonious atmosphere in our wonderful village – people choose to live here, it is a wonderful, peaceful, healthy place to be. We are not here to make a fortune but to create a lifestyle for ourselves, the villagers and the visitors.

Entrepreneurs are courageous individuals – putting their savings on the line, borrowing money from the bank, creating employment – never knowing what their incomes will be from one day to the next – their expenses stay the same each month but they do not know from one day to the next what their income will be. Those of you with regular jobs cannot know what this is like – stop and think about this and support your local businesses not make it harder on them.

Harrison is a unique community. Visitors are in awe of the beautiful place we live in – we are so blessed. We wake up each morning without the worry of a bomb dropping or even of hearing a siren. We help each other out where needed – we are all in this together. Lets not only think of the almighty dollar that pay parking might make. Let’s keep our community accessible to all – you never know who you are talking to, who is visiting, where they might spend their dollar, what their situation might be. Let’s be larger in thought and deed – it goes way farther than a dollar does.

If you are not in favour of pay parking please let the Village know. Phone 604-796-2171, write a letter or email the Mayor and Council c/o the Chief Administration Officer -ttisdale@harrisonhotsprings.ca

Donna Wright, Peter Heal and Audrey Munce