Council mulls free parking
THE council's environmental planning and regulations committee has been told that free parking periods should be investigated in GDC's parking review.
Committee members expressed support for one or two hours of free parking a day and different conditions between summer and winter.
Strategic planning manager David Wilson said the long-term plan called for a new parking policy by 2017/18. There was $1 million for new parking meters scheduled to be spent between 2019/20 and 2021/22.
In response to earlier statements that Gisborne had the most expensive parking fees of any rural city, Mayor Meng Foon had emailed a picture from Invercargill of meters with a $3 hourly fee, which compared with Gisborne’s $2.
Mr Wilson said the council held two workshops. There were 21 public submissions and a lot of Facebook traffic. One of the points made at the workshops was that people did not have coins in their pocket and the local meters were not electronic like modern ones, which took text messages and credit cards.
Some people said parking should be free but retailers said if it were, staff would take all the carparks in the city centre. The majority of people wanted free parking either for the first two hours or all day.
There were some favourable comments about parking wardens. Issuing tickets was not just about revenue collection, it was a service. Wardens checked for warrants of fitness on a day-to-day basis, making sure vehicles were safe.
There were 1000 free carparks within walking distance of the CBD, it was noted.
Mr Foster said the big thing that had come out of the workshops was the need for flexibility. There was a total contrast between the summer, which was busy, and winter when there were empty car parks.
“We need to be flexible in how we rectify this,” he said.
Winter parking regimeA parking regime for winter might be a great way of helping the city centre environment. He was not happy at having to wait until 2018 for the new policy and did not think any retailer would be.
Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour said: “We are not a big town. We have a small retail population that we wish to keep alive and I think we should be exploring one-hour free parking.
“That does not require metering. It requires a piece of chalk. I think we should not jump immediately to the most expensive option.
“More work should be done in listening to our public. Parking is one thing that really does have an impact on our city and the public tell us about it.”
Andy Cranston said there was a double cost for ratepayers, with the huge expenditure needed on new technology, and that 72 percent of people wanted cheaper or even free parking. Both of these would be a huge cost.
Mr Foster said Havelock North had provided free parking and the patronage in the town increased tenfold.
Rehette Stoltz said the small town where she grew up had installed electronic meters and recently went back to putting the coins in. Sometimes the old things worked best.
The council needed to think why it was doing this. Was it to make the centre of the city more welcoming?
Enforcement manager Jim Single said the new meters would be 100 percent funded from depreciation. The present meters were old and were no longer manufactured. Staff had to 'beg, borrow or steal' parts from around the country.
Meredith Akuhata-Brown asked if the free parking trial held this year could be tried again in the summer.
Mr Wilson said staff believed there was not enough merit in running the trial again.
Mr Foster said the trial was a bad exercise. It was badly advertised and was held from 8.30 to 10.30 on a cold winter’s morning. The whole thing was a shambles. He would hate to think that any results from it would be used for a future policy.