October 2, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 20  

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Parking downtown getting pricier?

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

If you are someone who has to park your car downtown, you may need to take a deep breath and possibly sit down before reading this.

"The Board of Control was looking for ways to bring in more money [without raising taxes], as a result of the downloading of responsibilities from the provincial government," said Cheryl Miller, chair of the Environment and Transportation Committee of London. The board's suggestion, she explained, included several changes to meter parking.

There were three proposals, Miller said. First, to change the end of charging/ticketing each day from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., with the cost changing after 6 p.m. from $1.25 an hour to $0.75 an hour. Second, the free two-hour parking on Saturdays would be removed and finally, to extend meter parking over a larger area.

"The ETC requested that a public meeting be held," Miller said, as a result the meeting occurred on Monday night at the London Convention Centre. "The response from [downtown business] was not positive, nor did I expect it to be."

The gist of the proposal was that since the downtown had been revitalized, it was time to gain some money from it, Miller explained, adding she anticipated a negative response to the plan.

"The downtown revitalization [plan] began only three years ago," Miller said. It does not take long for an area such as this to deteriorate, but it takes longer [than three years] to build it up, she added.

"Putting in a punitive parking system creates an environment where people don't want to go downtown. If we fill all the store fronts then we will bring in far more money than [raising parking prices]," Miller said.

"This would make things so hard and frustrating for business - it's great the city is making money but not if small business is suffering," said Mary Connolly, manager of Plantations/Symposium Cafe. "I think this is ridiculous."

"The city has been putting a lot of money into revitalizing the downtown. This would be a step backwards," said Jonathan McLean, manager of Archie's Beach Co.

McLean said he had heard several stories of visitors to London receiving parking tickets and deciding not to come back because of it. "From a business point of view, I don't like hearing this. From the point of view of someone who lives downtown and loves the downtown, I'm not too thrilled about it.

"This will just deter people from coming downtown - it doesn't help business owners and it makes London look bad," McLean said.




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