Skip to content

White Rock moves to end free winter waterfront parking

Bylaw amendment receives first readings in bid to reduce tax increases

White Rock council has given first readings to a bylaw amendment increasing parking fees at the waterfront and removing free winter parking and the shoulder season between winter and summer months.

First readings were given March 27 at the regular council meeting, following discussion and a vote on the measure during that afternoon’s Finance and Audit Committee meeting.

A subsequent final reading will be necessary for the step to come into effect as law.

Raised by Mayor Megan Knight during the finance meeting, the move had been suggested to council as a way to reduce an anticipated 9.17 property tax increase in 2023.

READ ALSO: Free weekday waterfront parking in White Rock ends Jan. 31

As a result of other council moves, that potential increase had already dropped to 8.9 per cent by the time of the discussion.

Financial services director Candice Gartry told council during the same committee meeting that the proposed changes to parking rates would result in bringing down the tax increase to 7.02 per cent.

“It’s a bit, but every little bit helps,” Knight said during the finance meeting.

READ ALSO: Free weekday parking along White Rock’s waterfront set to end

Councillors agreed that parking lots at the waterfront are full, whatever the rates are, during good weather, only differing on whether free parking provided an additional incentive during winter months.

In providing counter-arguments to the step, Coun. Christopher Trevelyan said that while free parking was not an answer to all the ills of the waterfront during off-season months, it should at least be considered as one factor that could help business.

But Coun. David Chesney argued that none of the successful restaurant businesses on the waterfront have ever considered it a must.

Coun. Ernie Klassen, who was for many years the White Rock BIA president, acknowledged that, in his view, it was a negligible factor for businesses, one way or the other.

“Free parking won’t make – or break – any business on the waterfront,” he said.

However, current BIA executive director Alex Nixon, who said he studied the issue at length while serving on a city Parking Task Force, told Peace Arch News he believes the balance between benefits and disadvantages of moving away from free winter parking needs to be more carefully weighed.

“This is a tiny, tiny amount of revenue (to be gained),” he said. “The revenue from weekday parking through all of the winter months is less than five days of revenue in July.”

He added that what the move will accomplish is to create another barrier for businesses already struggling to survive through the slowest period of the year.

“Additional cost is always a barrier to something, whether it’s a service or a product,” he said.

The new bylaw includes a $0.25 increase in parking rates per hour at the waterfront for both winter and summer.

Under the proposed schedule, the winter season now extends from the beginning of November to the end of February, while the summer season runs from the beginning of March to the end of October.

Pay parking will be seven days a week from 10 a.m. to midnight in all lot and on-street parking locations including the parkades.

In winter, rates will increase to $1 for 20 minutes, $1.75 for 40 minutes and $2.50 for 60 minutes, with the daily rate for the West Beach and Montecito parkades set at $8.

In summer, the rates will rise to $1.50 for 20 minutes, $3 for 40 minutes and $4.50 for 60 minutes, with the daily rate for the West Beach and Montecito parkades going up to $16.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

About the Author: Alex Browne

Read more