A solar powered Precise Parklink meter as shown in Calgary.

A solar powered Precise Parklink meter as shown in Calgary.

Harrison set to test paid parking

Despite previous approval, opposition to paid parking persists

Paid parking is coming to Harrison Hot Springs this summer, stirring much debate among local residents and business owners.

During a special meeting last Wednesday at council chambers Harrison council made a final vote, choosing Precise Parklink as the provider of the service’s trial run in the Village core set to start in mid-June.

Couns. Sonja Reyerse and Samantha Piper voted against the motion, with Mayor Leo Facio joining Couns. John Buckley and John Hansen as the deciding say for the proposal.

Reyerse said she and Piper were not against the decision to select Precise Parklink, but that their ‘nays’ were about the smaller detailed decisions about the service voted on earlier in the meeting—such as seasonality and hours.

“In the end we opposed it because we felt it didn’t meet all our recommendations, our individual recommendations that were best suited for the businesses or the residents,” she said.

The service itself was given a green light last June when council approved pay parking on selected streets of Harrison Village in a regular meeting.

But the topic came up again at last Monday’s Village council meeting when Frank Peters, operator of Rocky Mountain chocolate factory presented to council, voicing his opposition to paid parking in Harrison Hot Springs.

Peters said his 20 years in the town and his first hand experience with the area and its economics have given him “a vast and front line view of the big picture here in Harrison.”

“I spent years on the esplanade counting the cars, worrying that my retail store would fail,” he told council and staff. “If I didn’t shovel money into it, it would have failed.”

Peters also spent much time counting cars while on the paid parking committee.

“I can assure you that in Harrison we don’t have a parking problem we have a car problem, there aren’t enough,” he said.

Peters sees a conflict of interest with the revenues discussed being forecasted by the companies vying for the paid parking contract, and he wonders if the initiative could end up costing Harrison taxpayers more money and make doing business more difficult..

“I’d like to ask that council commit to a study by an independent, qualified professional before acting on this,” he said at the end of his talk. “This is such a big decision this seems reasonable and responsible.”

His plea comes too late—almost a year after council approved paid parking.

Vick Ghotra, co-owner of Black Forest restaurant, is one business operator in favour of the trial.

“If you go at seven in the morning all the parking lots are full. Even in the night time, all the parking lots are full,” he said last Monday during public question period. “So who’s using the parking?”

It’s largely customers and employees of the resort, Ghotra said.

“The front desk will tell you just park there for free or parking in our back is $5, $10,” he added.

Ghotra and others in support of the service say paid parking will force hotel patrons and employees to use the resort parking lot.

And to help assuage the fears of critics, Mayor Leo Facio reminds residents and business owners that it’s a trial season that can be discontinued in following years and there is wiggle room in the pricing details.

“The company’s very flexible if we wanted to reduce [fees] in the early or late months,” he said. “The machines are very flexible.”

The solar powered pay-and-display meters for the proposed 209 parking spots will be introduced by Precise Parklink during a public walk-in at Memorial Hall in mid-May.

In the initial weeks, the company will also run a promotion to help the public identify the areas and give them the information they need using ambassadors.

Precise Parklink has also said they will hire locals for some of the staff positions involved in the project.

The business will be responsible for all enforcement and collections related to the initiative.

The official projected net revenue to the Village as a result of paid parking is just under $200,000 according to Reyerse.

“In my opinion when you grind down the numbers, based on a 17 week period of 11 hours/day of paid parking, taking into consideration rainy weeks and/or weekends, the Village would make approximately $46,000,” she said as her minimum profit estimate.

Village council will have an open house in November inviting the community to share information regarding profit or loss and plans for any revenues.

At that meeting the community will have an opportunity for feedback about paid parking and whether it should continue.

The paid parking trial in the Village of Harrison Hot Springs will be in effect from mid-June to mid-September this year from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fees will be $2 per hour with a $10 daily maximum. A total of 12 meters will be installed on Chehalis Street, Hot Springs Road, Esplanade Avenue, St. Alice Street, Maple Street and Spruce Street.

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