Starting on May 1, on-street parking will no longer be free on Sundays in downtown Victoria. File photo.

Starting on May 1, on-street parking will no longer be free on Sundays in downtown Victoria. File photo.

Victoria city council plans to get rid of free Sunday street parking in the downtown area in just over two months.

On Feb. 11 in a special committee of the whole meeting, the council voted unanimously a motion by Mayor Lisa Helps to begin charging for on-street parking on Sundays beginning May 1. The motion states that the revenue from Sunday parking would go toward funding free bus passes for Victoria youth, starting in September of this year.

Helps said she plans to work with the transit commission and the school district to provide free transit to all youth in the region between age six and 18.

“That was made as part of our Budget 2019 decision,” Helps said.

Helps said the city is in a climate crisis and they want to work on cutting down carbon emissions from vehicles. She added that Kingston, Ont. has had free transit for kids since 2012.

“If we start kids taking the bus when they are young, they will be lifelong transit users,” Helps said.

The city has nearly 2,000 street parking spaces downtown. On-street parking is free in the evenings Monday to Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. and free all day Sundays and holidays.
According to the city, on-street parking brings in approximately $7 million in revenue annually.

Business owners in downtown Victoria have expressed concerns over the lack of turnover on Sunday due to the current free parking.

In December 2018, council voted unanimously to direct staff to explore charging for on-street parking on Sundays.

“Currently, staff do not have detailed on-street statistics for Sundays as parking is free. Though previous studies over the years have indicated that a large number of cars park on-street for over four hours,” staff wrote in their findings.

Based on estimates from city staff, implementing on-street pay parking at the current rates and time limits on Sunday is forecasted to generate approximately $600,000 in revenue per year. his calculation is based on total Saturday space availability of 18,000 hours (2,000 spaces multiplied by nine hours of pay parking) that generates approximately $1 million a year. A pro-rated percentage of 60 per cent has been applied for Sunday estimates, which factors in a reduction of businesses that are open on Sundays and the possible reduction of cars parking due to a
rate increase.

Another estimate of on-street pay parking on Sundays at a reduced rate of one dollar an hour with no maximum time limit is estimated to bring in approximately $500,00 per year. This is based on estimating the total amount of Sunday 10,000 hours (2,000 spaces multiplied by five hours of pay parking) multiplied by a rate of one dollar an hour. With this model, the assumption is that the introduction of Sunday pay parking will have less of an impact on the number of cars parking.

City staff also wrote the Yates Street parkade does often reach capacity on Sundays and the parkade could become busier, with lower turnover, if paid street parking is implemented.

Helps said that council has decided that drivers will have to pay regular rates on Sundays starting May 1 but parkades will remain free. The plan has to be finalized as part of the city’s budget approval on Feb. 28.

The final calculations for the cost of the youth bus passes still have to be completed.

Alexa Huffman