Opinion

News Views: No parking

Bob Jones, chair of the Downtown Parking Society, and Lynda Lawrence, administrator, at a parking lot in the 22300 block 119th Avenue. - The News files
Bob Jones, chair of the Downtown Parking Society, and Lynda Lawrence, administrator, at a parking lot in the 22300 block 119th Avenue.
— image credit: The News files

The City of Maple Ridge is accepting bids to manage five of its downtown parking lots, which have been run by a non-profit society since they were acquired.

The Maple Ridge Downtown Parking Association was formed in the 1990s by area businesses to provide parking for employees, leaving spots on the streets for customers.

The society operates the lots at minimal costs – the goal to keep fees low so the spaces will be used.

It employs one person. Revenue covers the salary for that position, and for lot improvements.

All other revenue – $12,000 to $14,000 a year – goes to the city.

Society president Bob Jones said no one else could manage the lots for less.

Of all the stalls in the five lots, only a handful are unused.

The city is required to request proposals once contracts expire.

Coun. Gordy Robson was involved when the society was formed more than 20 years ago and said its long-term goal was to save money for a multi-story parkade downtown. He thinks the current bid process is designed to exclude the society.

According to the bid invitation, the successful proponent will be paid a monthly or annual fee for operating the lots, including patrols and record keeping.

Bidders are also to show a “clear and concise overview” of how they would grow revenues through the use of new parking programs and technology, as well as create cost efficiencies.

Maple Ridge is willing to consider expanding any deal with a contractor to include 750 other parking stalls on city streets.

The society intends to enter a bid.

The city expects proposed growth to create more demand for parking.

Only so many spaces exist, so how to increase revenues?

Higher rates? More ticketing? Parking meters?

Other Metro municipalities have the latter, and better transit.

But how would such initiatives be received by downtown Maple Ridge businesses, especially given the number of empty storefronts already?

About as popular as charging for parking at the hospital?

 

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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