The City of Charlottetown is going to double the cost of parking at metered spaces to bring the price into line with the downtown parkades.
The move is part of a strategy to make more spaces available for short-term visitors to the downtown. The idea is to move long-term parkers into the parkades and leave the meters for people who are perhaps heading to one or two stores or out to lunch.
The cost at metered spaces will move from 50 cents an hour to $1 an hour. Parkade rates will be $7 a day, with monthly passes available for $60 to $90. This is the first increase in the city's meter parking rates in nearly 20 years.
Officials plan to crack down on people who hog parking spots by feeding the meter all day long.
"It's been a problem for quite a number of years, where all-day parkers park in the same spot, and feed the meters all day," said Deputy Mayor Stu MacFadyen.
In a news release, city officials urge people driving downtown to plan out which kind of space will be most appropriate.
"If you're coming downtown for a quick meal or to shop, grab a premium spot and pop a coin in the two-hour meter," the release reads.
"But don't feed it. Feeding the meters is illegal and when metered spaces don't turn over, local businesses don't thrive."
Ticketing of illegal parkers will also change under the strategy. The city might increase the fine to $15 from $5, but for now commissionaires will be cracking down.
"If they get a ticket and they keep feeding the meter, they'll end up getting a ticket and then another ticket. You know, it'll end up to be much, much cheaper to go to the parkade," MacFadyen said.
A study by consultants Hatch Mott Macdonald concluded there is no shortage of parking spaces in the downtown, with 3,000 street-side spaces and 1,360 in the parkades. The study also noted the city's parking rates were among the lowest in Canada.
Motorist Cheryl Stead agreed that parking in the birthplace of Confederation will still be a bargain.
"I think parking here in Charlottetown is still pretty cheap, you know, compared with most other capital cities," she said.
But Carol Sellar said the increased parking fees will hurt.
"It's not a good thing for the people. I'm not sure if it's going to matter at the end of the day in the amount of parking that's available," Sellar said.
The Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, would like to know how many valuable parking spots are being taken up by loading zones.