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City council approves paid parking at Marina lots

By CJ Goater Jan 23, 2024 | 7:00 AM

Photo of Councillors Agarwal, Bentz, Pasqualino, Ch'ng and Zussino - Acadia File Photo

City council has approved the Thunder Bay Parking Authority financial plan, but not before making some adjustments.

The final plan is very similar to the first report, but a deputation, public consultation, and a debate at council have led to some adjustments to lessen the impact of the incoming changes.

The first change was removing Crooks lot from the underutilized lots to close list, to ensure suitable parking in downtown Port Arthur with the downtown revitalization currently underway.

“You’re spending 13 million dollars on renovating downtown Port Arthur, for Red River Road, and then if you don’t give parking to people, what’s the point in even doing that?’ said Councillor Michael Zussino

The Camelot, Machar, Viscount, and Nesco were also deemed underutilized, and their closures were approved.

For 2023 monthly parkade rentals were set at $61.88 and were set to increase to $90.00 this year, but city council has approved transitioning the price increase of almost $30 from 2023-2024 into a two-year approach where the change will be phased in more progressively.

“A lot of businesses rent out spots for their employees and this would be a definite financial hardship, but to jump that much that quick it is a shock,” Explained Councillor Albert Aiello

The final two changes were made at the marina.

The Marina which has been operating on a free parking model is now shifting to paid parking. The initial reported cost for parking was $3 per hour at the Marina and Market Square.

Council ultimately decided to amend the financial plan to lower the price of Marina parking to $2 per hour.

A memo to council from the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission highlighted their support for the rate decrease.

“Other comments received from tourism partners to Tourism Thunder Bay include reducing the proposed $3 per hour rate to $2 per hour, consistent with proposed new rates for all other districts in the city,” said Paul Pepe, Manager of Tourism Thunder Bay in the memo.

“The implementation of paid parking in a previously free model is something that is controversial and will take adjustment for some. However, the wide implementation of paid parking at many public waterfront destinations demonstrates it is a model necessary to sustain operations and it does not have a demonstrable negative impact on visitation to areas with high-quality experiences and high user demand.”

Paid parking at the Marina is set to go into effect June 1.

The other change saw the rate increase for Market Square from 2025 onward shift from 3% yearly to 0.25 cents every two years matching all other hourly parking increases in the financial plan.

In addition to approving the financial plan council has directed administration to develop a no-free parking policy to present to council for consideration on or before March 25, 2024.

Over the past few years, the parking authority’s finances have become an issue.

If not for access to the Safe Restart funds and the Stabilization Reserve Fund, the Parking Reserve Fund would have been fully depleted, creating the need for the new financial plan.

All approvals were made at committee of the whole and are pending ratification at city council.