The city will proceed with a plan to reinstate pay parking, despite calls from business owners to rethink the plan.
Prince George Chamber of Commerce president Bill McGill presented the results of a survey of members demonstrating widespread opposition to the end of the two-year pilot project.
Sixty-five per cent of the 151 respondents were against reintroducing pay parking to downtown streets, with more than half of respondents not having businesses located in the core.
"One overwhelming theme is now is not the time," said McGill. "Which may imply that there is a time but certainly isn't now in the mind of the respondents."
The survey also demonstrated a clear consensus that the current free two-hour parking system is being abused.
In March, council received a report that the pilot project saw the city's parking control division go from generating an $80,000 profit in 2007 to costing the city $81,0000 per year.
But among the concerns from the business community is that pay parking will stand in the way of the much-encouraged push for revitalizing the downtown core and that money generated from parking rates would not translate into funding for road rehabilitation.
"Businesses clearly want to see some innovative solutions to this," McGill said, noting the previous meter system was often subject to vandalism.
The survey also unveiled some suggestions, which ranged from better use of parkades and initial free parking for drop-in users.
One suggestion that cropped up, more often than McGill said he expected, was to have free parking on a selection of streets such as Victoria Street and Third, Fourth and Fifth Avenues.
But Mayor Shari Green, who once advocated for free parking as president of the Downtown Business Improvement Association, said that would be moving backwards.
"Back in the day, when I wore a different hat, I was sitting where you were sitting... and not to improve businesses or shopping - because there's more that goes on downtown than shopping - but because there was inequity," Green said. "So to see someone suggest some streets have meters and some streets not - that was the very reason we asked for the meters to be removed in the first place.
Another suggestion stemming from the chamber survey was to enforce the parking fines already issued, to which Green said there was no easy answer.
"I'd love to know what that is," she said, adding the money is likely with a collection agency.
"It's an interesting evolution for me as someone who wanted to see this work and have to acknowledge that frankly, it didn't work."
The city's finance and audit committee is charged with creating a new model for pay parking, and the mayor noted that there won't be a return to the parking meters of old, but rather they will be looking at new technologies.
According to the survey, 60 per cent of respondents have increased their downtown shopping since pay parking was removed, nearly 53 per cent of respondents still would not be in favour of reinstating pay parking if the money was directed to road repair.