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Group forms to battle big jump in downtown parking fees

Guelph4FairParking formed after many city parking lots saw large fee increases April 1
20180419 west parkade ts
The West Parkade, which was closed for a spell last year. GuelphToday file photo

A new group has formed in Guelph in protest to what they feel is an unfair jump in city parking rates.

Guelph4FairParking was formed by a small group of individuals who saw dramatic increases in their monthly parking rates April 1.

They have started a petition and want the rates reduced or at the very least the increases spread out over a longer period of time.

Rob Broadhead has been a permit holder in the West Parkade for 25 years.

This year his month permit went from $93.81 a month to $135, plus HST. That’s a 44 per cent increase.

“It’s going to cost me an extra $552 a year,” said Broadhead, who says there are many people that work downtown who are upset at the significant increases.

“If the City of Guelph believes there are no consequences to increasing this service by more than 40 per cent then what is to prevent them from drastically increasing other services in similar fashion?” Broadhead said.

He said people are already talking about cancelling passes, working from home or parking on side streets.

“This will definitely reduce what people are spending downtown or eliminate it completely,” Broadhead said.

“For me personally, it’s not the money. It’s the principle of it.”

When Broadhead started paying for monthly downtown parking 25 years ago he said it cost $53 a month.

All of the city-owned parking lots saw increases this year, varying from 9.5 per cent to 149 per cent at the Norwich Street lot.

The east and west parkades are currently the most expensive, at $135 a month, but the new Wilson Street Parkade will be $140 a month. At the other end of the spectrum, the Elizabeth Street parking lot is $60 a month.

That $20.4-million Wilson Street Parkade is a big reason rates shot up this year, as parking fees are one of the means of financing it.

Also contributing is that last year Guelph City Council decided to abandon a return to paid on-street parking and the $600,000 in lost revenue had to be made up somewhere.

Broadhead, who wants to make it clear that Guelph4FairParking has nothing to do with the organizers' places of work, said too much of the cost is being placed on the backs of the permit holders.

Others are upset too.

Natalie Fee, who along with her husband works downtown, wrote in an email to GuelphToday that her family now pays over $3,600 a year to park at work.

“This increase was not communicated in advance. We were not given time to budget. And there are virtually no alternatives,” Fee wrote.

“Should we cancel our parking passes we will be fighting for free parking spots on the outskirts of downtown and causing problems for the area residents who would like to use those spots.”

Following a delegation from some concerned citizens, council voted in favour of spreading the increase to the Norwich and Fountain street parking lots over two years.

Broadhead said at the very least they’d like to see that for the other lots that saw significant jump in rates.

That, he said, would allow people to adjust their budgets and perhaps look for alternatives.

Broadhead said that so far 153 people have subscribed to the Guelph4FairParking web page.