Bob Bell

Independent thinking. Plain talking

Current Ward Issues

Downtown Parking

What do you think?

Councillor Bell's current position on downtown parking in 2014 is the same as always:

Councillor Bell's position on downtown parking in 2010 was:
Although unpopular with many downtown businesses, Bob's view is parking and parking garages should be, for the most part, user pay. Bob believes that making onstreet parking in the downtown free was the wrong decision. A better decision would have been one or two hours free in the Garages. This is considered best practice and was the recommendation of the consultant. Shifting the burden of downtown parking from the user to the general public has increased taxes by .7% and created a serious issue with the lack of parking for the New Go Station.

August 2010
Over 100 parking spaces to be removed from Carden Street and demand for parking to explode with the introduction of the New Go Station
No new parking Provided or Planed.

December 2009
All New Parking Garages completely disappear from capital plan.

April 2009
A conceptual design of a 395 car parking garage is being circulated to the builders to come back with a price for completion in 2010

December 2008
The user pay parking budget mysteriously disappears from the budget process.

November 2008
Consultants hired by the city show the concepts behind the new Wilson St. Garage with 394 spaces

October 24, 2008,
Magda Konieczna, Guelph Mercury Staff
Keep downtown parking free. That's what city staff are recommending. The city started a pilot project last fall, offering two hours of free, on-street parking. You still have to pay to park in lots and garages, and the city still charges for parking passes. Staff are recommending those fees, plus parking fines, be increased to partially offset the cost of the free parking. The staff report cites a survey, commissioned by the city in March, in which 88 per cent of respondents said they would like the free parking to continue, though only 35 per cent said they came downtown more often as a result. Downtown business owners have long said they support the free parking. Shelley Krieger, who co-owns the Red Brick Café, and sits on the Downtown Guelph Business Association said she was "totally thrilled" about the recommendation. "It creates a lot of goodwill downtown. Instead of being in a shop and having to look at their watch every five minutes, worrying about their meter running out, people are able to relax and enjoy a bit more." Krieger said people used to complain that they would come downtown, have to scramble for coins to feed the meter, and would often leave in frustration. "The meters are just a psychological barrier for customers," she said. Ward 1 Councillor Bob Bell represents the downtown. He is strongly against free parking, arguing that with two expensive parking projects on the books -- garages on Baker and Wilson streets -- now is not the time to cut parking revenue. Bell said the suggestion that raising fees will offset some of the cost is misleading, because those fees would have gone up anyway. They haven't changed in six years. "Loss of meter revenue, coupled with escalating garage costs, doesn't make for a viable business case," he said. If the free parking goes ahead, "the parking budget can no longer be user-pay, so parking garages have to come out of the general capital expenditures, which means it pushes other projects like community centres or libraries back. "So it isn't free parking. It's parking paid by others." He added it doesn't make sense to him that the on-street spots, which are most desirable, would be free, while drivers would need to pay for the less desirable spots in lots and garages. The approval process for the pilot project was rocky after a consultant hired by the city said offering free on-street parking doesn't make sense, and instead suggested parking in lots be free. The staff recommendation goes to a council committee Wednesday. It will go to council in November.

February 2008
City Staff to bring forward a Wilson St. parking proposal in March. The plan will address the parking deficit on Carden created by the new city hall and the construction of the transit hub.

September 2007
The "Free Parking " program downtown is being paid for by the fund to build a new parking garage.(Bob votes against using parking garage capital funds to pay for free parking.)

April 2007
The Downtown Board of Management in conjunction with City Parking and Planning Staff are preparing to come forward with a new parking strategy to resolve Baker Street, New City Hall, and Transit Transfer Site relocation over the medium to long term. This report will be completed in June. 2007

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