By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on January 25, 2024.
The City has made changes to its traffic bylaw that will affect parking in the downtown area starting Feb. 1.
The changes come after direct consultation withÂ representatives of the Downtown Business Revitalization Zone, the Heart of Our City Committee and several business owners.
Parking Coordinator with the City of Lethbridge, Phillip Berg said Wednesday some changes involve an increase in fines.
“The parking fines not only affect the downtown area but also affect parking areas across the entire city and parking safety is an important part of our transportation network. We want to make sure any fines we do have are enough of a deterrent to prevent people from creating infractions,” said Berg.
Parking fines downtown are increasing from $25 to $40, with an early payment incentive reduction of $20 if paid within 10 days, while parking fines outside the downtown core will be $50, up from $25, with an early payment incentive reduction of $15 if paid within 10 days.
To help residents lower the risk of getting a ticket, the City has also lengthened the grace period to top up a parking payment from three to seven minutes.
“We worked very extensively with businesses in the downtown as well as representatives from the BRZ and the HOC to see what initiatives we could put forward to benefit not only the City of Lethbridge, but all of its residents and businesses in the downtown,” said Berg.
One of the changes, that according to the City will benefit downtown businesses and will serve as an incentive for people to shop, is a new parking enforcement schedule that will be changing to 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from a previous schedule of 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with free parking remaining on weekends.
Another change taking place in Feb. 1 is the elimination of the two-hour parking zone in downtown, allowing for parking to be divided only into two zones of three- or 10-hour parking.
“We’d heard from feedback from BRZ, HOC and the businesses that were involved that they’d like to see that expanded into the Zone 3. It’s very beneficial as in the fact that now you have only two options within the downtown, and it allows you to move around within downtown without having to relocate after that two hours or top up your time after two hours,” said Berg.
Executive director of Downtown BRZ Sarah Amies said the change from Zone 2 to Zone 3 will help downtown business in a big way by allowing residents to stay longer without having to worry about topping up their payment.
“They will have that extra time and perhaps will be persuaded to use that extra time in the Downtown patronizing businesses, cafes, restaurants, etc,” said Amies.
Current chair of the HOC Laurien Johansen said the incentives are like the sugar that helps the medicine go down. They are aware that fines needed to go up, but the incentives makes it a bit easier to receive the changes.
“We also know that when you take a little you have to give a little, and all of those incentives are just part of the ways that we try to make this as mutually acceptable and palatable for everybody,” said Johansen.
The changes are to be carried out as a two-year pilot project, with an update to Council after one year. The engagement team will continue to monitor the proposed changes and report back to Council after the first year of implementation to ensure the program is successful.