The Downtown Midland BIA wants free downtown parking for the month of December.
In a letter to council ahead of next Wednesday’s meeting, BIA chair Scott Campbell asks town staff and council to approve a move that would allow it to happen.
“Historically the offer of free parking has been extended for on-street and off-street municipal lots for the month of December,” Campbell writes.
“This has been a great way to promote our downtown stores, advertise our shop local campaign, and this year will help encourage people to come down and see the newly reconstructed King Street in all of its planned Holiday Splendor.”
Campbell said the BIA board’s events committee has been working extra hard this year to expand the winter vision, and has great things planned through its ‘Christmas on King’ promotion.
While Campbell notes COVID restrictions have limited some new ideas, residents will see the return of the light-up snowflakes, new extra colorful and bright holiday lights, new garlands adorning the streetlight posts, bright and bold banners, custom storefront paintings, a charitable Christmas tree market and the annual Christmas tree lighting.
“If agreed to, the addition of Free Parking will be included in all of our media campaigns and should help generate another great news story on all the reasons to shop local this holiday season,” Campbell’s letter concludes.
The letter follows Coun. Bill Gordon’s call for the town to offer free parking in the downtown core throughout December.
The Midland councillor said that the move would follow the precedent set during previous years when street parking was free during the festive season. (Parking in municipal lots had been free for three hours prior to the new parking meters being installed earlier this year).
“Mindful that these motions concern parking downtown, freshly after a defeated motion to pause the system until spring, this motion relates to an activity unrelated to the malfunctions or user challenges,” Gordon said.
“Instead (this) seeks support for an initiative that we’ve embraced yearly in the past and that I’m concerned may be otherwise overlooked.”
Just last week, Gordon’s motion to have the town suspend paid parking as it addressed supposed technical glitches was defeated by a 6 to 3 vote.
A new paid parking system in Midland’s downtown core was unveiled this summer shortly after the completion of the Big Dig reconstruction project. As the removal of the traditional coin-based meters were replaced with digital terminals during pandemic restrictions, the BIA and Chamber of Commerce successfully haggled for a temporary one-hour free grace period in parking lots.
But while Gordon's earlier motion was defeated, he said the town needs to follow the move made in years past when shoppers could visit downtown merchants without having to worry about feeding the meters.
To that end, he wants "council (to) implement the customary free parking for the month of December to help encourage the return of shoppers to our revitalized downtown core on the most important shopping month of the year.”