New Brunswick

Peak pricing, pay by plate parking could be coming to Fredericton

The city announced draft parking plans it hopes will alleviate downtown parking but may end up costing motorists a bit extra..

Fredericton's draft parking master plan announced

Meredith Gilbert, manager of transit and parking for the City of Fredericton, said the draft parking master plan is aimed at securing parking supply in the downtown. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

The City of Fredericton has announced a draft parking plan it hopes will alleviate downtown parking, although it may end up costing motorists a bit more.

It calls for, among other things, peak pricing and a pay-by-plate system for on-street parking, and the replacement of some parking infrastructure.

Meredith Gilbert, manager of transit and parking services for Fredericton, said the plan is meant to alleviate parking problems in the downtown.

The city's growth strategy said the population of Fredericton is expected to grow to 92,000 from 60,000 by 2041.

"The parking plan is needed to make sure the parking supply available in the downtown is keeping pace with the development pace that we're seeing," said Gilbert.

The plan, announced at a transportation committee meeting this week, was written by Stantec, the firm that developed the city's public transportation plan.

Peak pricing

The city's peak-parking-rate plan would see the cost of on-street parking rise at different times of the day, with the goal being to drive more people into parking garages, such as the one at Chancery Place.

The cost of parking could also change depending on the time of year or events occurring in the downtown.

Vehicle licence plates are something people are more likely to remember.- Meredith Gilbert, manager of parking services

Gilbert said the city hopes people coming downtown to work will choose to park in parking garages, leaving on-street parking for people making shorter trips.

"It helps to generate turnovers in higher-demand areas," she said.

"Customers looking for that quicker trip, maybe for an hour for lunch or into a store to grab a product."

Gilbert said there's no plan to change the hours in which motorists would have to pay for on-street parking.

On-street parking is free between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. on weekdays and between 5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Monday.

An end to sharing

The report also recommends the city move to a pay-by-plate model of parking in the downtown.

The city now operates on a pay-by-space system, where a driver either puts money into a parking meter on the street or, if in a parking lot, enters the space number at a kiosk.

The new system would see people put their licence plate numbers into a kiosk instead.

Parking enforcement would use licence plate scanners to see if a vehicle had paid for parking.

A move to pay-by-plate would mean everyone parking downtown would have to pay, which isn't necessarily the case now.

Pay-by-plate considered more convenient

If someone pays for one hour of parking at a meter, and only uses 15 minutes, the next person who comes along gets up to 45 minutes of free parking.      

While pay-by-plate would eliminate that, Gilbert said the rationale for moving to pay-by-plate is convenience for the customer.

"Vehicle licence plates are something people are more likely to remember," she said. "And so it's more convenient for customers."

Gilbert said moving to a pay-by-plate system means the city could remove parking meters and parking space number poles, which would make plowing easier.

Machines may be replaced

The city is also looking at replacing its aging payment infrastructure.

The report notes that the company that made the city's payment kiosks is no longer updating the machines, and newer bills, like the $10, can't be used in them.

The city is now seeking feedback from residents about the draft report, and Gilbert said she expects a final report to be presented to council in May.

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