‘Ease up on downtown parking’

Business group, farmers market wants to open up underground spots

The Haney Farmer’s Market Society hopes that relaxing restrictions in the city’s parkade will encourage more people to stay  longer at the  weekend   market in  Memorial  Peace Park

The Haney Farmer’s Market Society hopes that relaxing restrictions in the city’s parkade will encourage more people to stay longer at the weekend market in Memorial Peace Park

Maple Ridge town centre’s underground parkade is mostly empty on weekends so why not open it up for downtown shoppers and customers of the Haney Farmers Market?

Give the first two hours free, then charge a $2 flat rate after that on Saturdays and Sundays and everyone will benefit, says the market in a letter to Maple Ridge council.

Not only would the farmer’s market benefit, but so would downtown businesses, said Sandra Ramsay, board chair of the Haney Farmer’s Market Society.

If people didn’t have to worry about parking, they’d hang around and shop more in the core area and be able to relax and spend.

“In our opinion, a weekend first-two-hours-free, $2 all-day flat rate for the two weekend days, would be a win-win for all concerned.”

Currently, parking under the city’s Maple Ridge Business Centre and Arts Centre Theatre buildings costs 75 cents an hour, up to a maximum of $4 a day. The first hour is free.

“They have it in Kelowna. They have it in Victoria, many, many places,” said Ineke Boekhorst, executive-director with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association, which is also making the request.

“It would really help people to just park their car and go to the market, shop around, sit down for a meal and not have to worry.”

Cutting the price in half and setting a $2 flat rate for all day could also bring in more money into the parkade, which has 500 stalls.

“The parkade is mostly empty on the weekends.”

Boekhorst said there are more than 6,000 parking spaces, both private and public, in downtown Maple Ridge.

But three-quarters of those spaces have time limits. The remainder have no time limits, such as on 222nd and 223rd streets, but often shoppers don’t want to walk that far. Having no parking restrictions would result in employees hogging the stalls.

Parking throughout the downtown though is still free, unlike other cities.

Council on Monday considered the letter and decided to get more information on the proposal.

“We hope that’s going to happen,” said Boekhorst.