Bill Gordon wants 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.”
And since the meters have caused consternation for some local residents, Gordon wants staff to lead demonstrations and learning sessions on using the parking system at strategic times and locations downtown over the next few months to help with user adoption and to promote the use of the system.
The town installed 70 pay-by-plate machines along King Street along with downtown side streets, between First Street and Midland Avenue, as well as in all 10 municipal lots earlier this year.
The total cost of the project is approximately $545,000 with the parking rate remaining the same as with the previous meter system, 25 cents for fifteen minutes or one dollar per hour.
While there is a 15-minute free parking provision, parking is enforced from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday for on-street parking and all municipal lots, with the exception of the harbour, where enforcement is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.