Sidney will soon start selling additional monthly daytime parking passes in the downtown core following a narrow council vote.
Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith joined Couns. Sara Duncan, Chad Rintoul and Peter Wainwright in approving a motion allowing passes to be sold for the parking lot behind the new Oceanna building on the site of Sidney’s former fire hall. The lot designated B was part of the land sale agreement between the municipality and the building’s developer, which requires the lot to be leased back to the town at no charge.
Couns. Barbara Fallot, Scott Garnett and Terri O’Keeffe voted against the measure.
The move means up to 20 monthly daytime parking passes (out of 35 total) will be available for purchase at $50 per month. Staff said these passes do not grant holders a specific spot, with spaces available on a first-come, first served basis. The passes allow passholders to stay longer than the three hours permitted for other lot users, similar to rules in place for municipal parking lots C, E and F.
Local businesses had monthly passes before the construction of the Oceanna and the move would restore access, McNeil-Smith said. He acknowledged demand for lots already allowing daytime parking passes is not significant.
“However, business owners and others that have merchandise or whatever (require them) to be close to their building,” he said. The Oceanna lot does not differ from the other municipal lots and the impact on overall parking would not be significant, he added.
Staff later said the municipality has received a few requests from businesses, with June through September showing the highest uptake for passes.
“I’m comfortable with that suggestion,” said Rintoul in support of the motion. “I don’t know if the uptake would be tremendous, but I like highlighting the parking lot in this manner. It’s almost, in my mind, a forgotten parking lot given that it is in behind the Oceanna building.”
O’Keeffe said the municipality already spends a lot of money to make parking available for employees and the public at the Mary Winspear Centre, after businesses expressed concerns about wanting more parking for customers.
“The priority has to be to maintain those spots for transient visitors,” she said.
Fallot agreed. “I’m loathe to go for monthly passes,” she said in expressing fear the move would deter short-term visitors.
Garnett worried selling monthly passes would impact customer parking for commercial tenants in the Oceanna building – one of the two craft breweries planned for the spaces is already operating.
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