Downtown Prince George does not have a parking problem. There is ample available parking on and off street any day of the week (and more on weekends). The current program works well everywhere except for an area around 3rd and Victoria where a few government employees and others are abusing the system. The city needs to change their enforcement practices in that area. The Downtown Business Improvement Association and the Chamber of Commerce have both provided the city with inexpensive solutions to the enforcement problem.
Installing an expensive paid parking system will not help the downtown businesses or provide the city with extra revenue, rather it will drive customers to the malls where they can park for free. When the city removed the parking meters from downtown a few years ago, downtown retailers reported a noticeable increase in revenues (some as high as 20 per cent).
If retail activity drops off it won't take long before we start to see business failures and increases in vacancy rates. Higher vacancies will lead to lower rents and decreases in assessed values which over time, will further erode the rather substantial property tax base that the downtown property owners provide to the city.
The only venues that can get away with this kind of negative customer annoyance and inconvenience are government funded operations such as airports, colleges, universities and hospitals where the clients have no other choice and are forced to pay to park. The downtown businesses don't have that luxury, their customers have lots of other choices in the shopping malls and other areas of the city that provide hassle free parking.
If paid parking was such a great idea, every shopping mall in North America would have it.
City council meets on Monday Sept. 23 to decide this issue. Please encourage your mayor and council to vote against paid parking on Monday night.