Parking at White Rock's waterfront just got more expensive.
That's because White Rock council approved a wide-range of rate increases for the city's various parking options, including resident, visitor and merchant parking passes, as well as off-season hourly rates.
The reason for the increase? The City of White Rock is expecting Burlington Northern, which owns the parking lots on the waterfront, to increase the city's lease by an additional $50,000 when it comes time for a lease renewal in July 2013. Thus, the increases in fees are a preemptive measure to offset predicted future costs.
The City of White Rock currently leases the lots for $350,000 annually from Burlington Northern.
Residents who currently pay $30 for their parking decals will now pay $40, while non-resident commercial property owners will now pay $125, up from $110. Merchants on Marine Drive and Vidal will now pay $300 instead of $265.
Additionally, the hourly rates for off-season parking will go up from $1 an hour to $1.50. The off-season rates are in effect from Nov. 1 to April 30. Peak season hourly rates will remain at $3 an hour and pay parking will run from 10 a.m. to midnight year round.
Finally, council also gave city staff the go ahead to commence with a new parking pass pilot project for non-residents parking in the off-season. For $175, non-residents can purchase a pass that would allow them to park for up to four hours a day in the waterfront lots anytime between Nov. 1 and April 30.
According to Sandra Kurylo, director of financial services for the city, they need to sell roughly 250 of the passes to break even on costs. Kurylo also noted that the project came about as a result of talks with the White Rock Business Improvement Association.
"These are the recommendations...agreed on in the end," said Kurylo. "The $175 was put forward as a price they (merchants) thought was fair, (something) that people would be willing to pay and would generate sufficient revenue for the city."
According to the staff report, the city hopes to bring in about $45,000 from the program.
Coun. Louise Hutchinson hoped the changes would finally bring some consistency to the pay parking in White Rock.
"It's never been consistent, so I'm hoping this time the consistency is the primary (change)," she said. "Any money in from any person is good for pay parking and I'd rather have people in for $30 or $40 than none at all."
While he praised the work done by the pay parking task force, Mayor Wayne Baldwin wondered how bylaw staff and merchants could ensure cars would only be there for four hours with the new off-season pass.
"(People could) go out and rotate cars to different spots, so I hope merchants are on the lookout for that," said Baldwin. "The best parking spaces may be taken up by their own staff, but we'll give it a try."
Baldwin also noted that this would be the last time this council would revisit the pay parking issue with the White Rock BIA.
"We are not going to be reviewing our rates again with the BIA during this term of office," said Baldwin. "This is it, it's done. Finished."