Businesses and visitors have weighed in on the recent changes to White Rock's waterfront pay parking and the results are in: people remain divided over the decision to increase some rates while lowering others.
At the White Rock Business Improvement Association, executive director Sherri Wilson Morissette said the changes were a result of "a very positive experience" between the city and White Rock merchants.
According to Morissette, the changes were made to address the inconsistency in pay parking rates up until this point, as it was free some years while $1 an hour in others.
"We wanted to really work together as community stakeholders to come up with solutions, resolutions, ideas, to make this be successful," said Morissette.
"(We wanted) something that had longevity and not just a knee-jerk reaction to make everyone happy quickly, but something that could stay and benefit everyone in the community."
Morissette noted that various members of the business community dedicated much of their free time to the process, conducting their own research and testing ideas in order to find a viable solution.
"The focus wasn't just the free parking in the winter, it was coming up with making the revenue that may be lost if we changed the rates but also making it affordable and welcoming," she said.
"March and April have sunny days, but it's not the best, not like August when people are willing to come to the sit on the beach and pay the higher rates.
"So we were committed to extending the low season to those months to make it more welcoming for people to come visit us."
A NECESSARY EVIL
For Maureen Coroliuc, owner of Angelic Teapot, the changes are a necessary evil.
"We didn't get the dollar an hour or free parking, which we had wanted. But what we did gain was to get some consistency in the parking down here," she said.
While Coroliuc would have liked to see free parking return as a way to encourage business on the waterfront, she also saw the reasoning behind the need to have some sort of fee.
"There had to be some concessions and this was the best they could do," she said. "When they went in, the mayor said that it had to be revenue neutral and that task force did the best they could with what they had. They had to make it work and make it revenue neutral."
To that end, Coroliuc was satisfied with the result, seeing it as an overall positive experience, especially considering the new parking pass.
"Now what we also have for the very first time now is a parking pass which we've never been able to have before," she said. "I've talked to people in South Surrey who want that as it used to be residents and merchants-only before."
DRIVERS LESS THAN THRILLED
But while businesses laud the changes as the final step in bringing consistency and compromise to an issue that's been revisited numerous times over recent years, visitors don't seem too happy to be paying more in the off-season.
"I think it's just stopping people from coming down and enjoying the beach," said Langley's Tracy Kingdom after paying for parking Tuesday afternoon.
"It just gets expensive. To come here for an hour and have to pay that much is just stopping people from coming."
For Kingdom, knowing she has to pay for parking has affected her decisions in the past about coming to White Rock, and she says the changes won't do anything to change that.
"I avoid coming here sometimes. It definitely stops me," she said.
As for the new pass, Kingdom said she wouldn't be interested in something like that.
"It's still limited," she said. "To have a limited time to come here, you still have to worry about that and risk getting a ticket.
Sometimes you like to go out for dinner, it takes longer, you have family visiting and you want to go for a walk. It's just a hassle."
For New Westminster's Gaye Stewart, $1.50 an hour isn't much when compared to other places, but "a dollar is better."
"I don't particularly think they should be charging at all because I think the businesses here suffer," said Stewart, who admits she sometimes ends up going to Crescent Beach to avoid paying at White Rock.
"You don't have to pay for parking there and you do have some restaurants out there, but you don't have the variety you have here."
PAY PARKING CHANGES:
? Off-season rates now $1.50 an hour, up from $1 an hour
? March and April now counted as off-season, reducing rates from $3 an hour to $1.50
? Off-season now runs Nov. 1 to April 30
? Pay parking in effect until midnight year-round, was previously 2 a.m. in peak months
? Resident decals now $40 instead of $30
? Non-resident commercial property owner decals now pay $125 instead of $110
? Merchants on Marine Drive and Vidal Street now pay $300 instead of $265 for decals
Reasons for changes:
? Hourly rates and new non-resident pass to offer consistent price into the future
? Increase in decals to pay for expected cost of lease increase on waterfront parking lots
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