No free parking

Council renews Surface Parking Bylaw but promises adjustments in new year

Kimberley’s parking lot bylaw is up for renewal, and as there was the last time it was renewed, there is considerable protest about its fairness.

At the heart of the issue is whether it is fair that those businesses who supply parking for their customers, and pay taxes on them, should also pay a portion for the City parking lots around the Platzl, as required by the bylaw.

Several business owners feel they should not. A petition against renewal of the bylaw was started, led by Eric Martens of Wineworks Kimberley, who led the charge last time. Only 18 signatures were received opposed to the bylaw. Stopping it from proceeding would have required 50 per cent of business owners and 50 per cent of assessed value.

However, Council was not unsympathetic to the petitioners.

“Mr. Martens presents a compelling case on the need to make some adjustments,” said Mayor Ron McRae.

The suggestion was to adopt the bylaw before year’s end as required, but to begin immediately in the new year to address some of the issues.

Not all Councillors agreed that was enough.

“I’m speaking against adoption,” said Coun. Don McCormick. “It has emerged as a major thorn with those who have parking lots. It’s a major issue. I think we can deal with these issues. I’d hate to see it go into the new year. Whatever our good intentions to fix it, it could move into the next fiver year term.”

“It hasn’t worked well,” said Coun. Darryl Oakley. “A lot of people are disproportionately affected. I’d rather see it gone rather than see a process of trying to fix it.”

However, Coun. Kent Goodwin said he’d like to see it fixed.

“I do think we should have started a little sooner though. But I’m not as pessimistic that we couldn’t pass it and get it fixed in the new year.”

“I can’t see why we couldn’t sort it out in 2013,” said Coun. Jack Ratcliffe. “There are faults with this and with every aspect of taxation.”

Coun. Albert Hoglund agreed. “I support passing it,” he said. “There are some problems with it, there have been for 40 years. But it can be fixed. It doesn’t have to go a full five years before we fix it.”

Coun. Bev Middlebrook agreed but only on the basis that it was looked at early in the new year and made a priority.

McRae said that the Downtown Parking Commission was created to oversee the bylaw and it was incumbent on Council to make sure they were included in the process.

“It does have financial implications if the City takes over that aspect. I suggest we move forward and make a commitment that early in the new year, we will come up with a solution.”

“We want to be seen as a business friendly Council,” McCormick said. “This is a problem for business.”

The motion carried with McCormick and Oakley opposed.