Rocky Point pay parking on hold
July 24, 2014
Faced with an angry public outcry that felt a lot like “Armageddon,” Port Moody is holding off on a plan to start charging non-residents for parking at Rocky Point Park.
Two weeks ago, council voted to launch a pilot project on Aug. 15 that would allow residents to park registered vehicles free of charge. Non-residents would pay $1 per hour, up to a four-hour maximum.
The annual cost to the city to enforce the pay parking was to be about $35,000, with a one-time cost of an extra $6,700.
Staff suggested the fee would cover the cost of administration and raise funds for “beautification projects” in the city.
There was no public discussion of the proposal and no public consultation conducted.
The public — resident and non-resident — and businesses were not impressed. And they let councillors know it.
“I’m changing my mind for the first time since I’ve been on council. With the public outcry we have heard, it’s almost like Armageddon that we started,” said Coun. Bob Elliott.
Coun. Diana Dilworth, who was not at the original meeting, said Tuesday she was “shocked” that council had “forced” the issue and that she was “getting tremendous feedback.”
Coun. Zoe Royer, who didn’t support the original proposal, argued the plan did need to be presented for public consultation and predicted that “many valuable ideas will come forward.”
People on both sides of the argument also sent their thoughts to the Tri-Cities NOW.
One letter to the editor from Port Moody’s Chris Carter argued the original idea of a fee was to encourage turnover of scarce parking spots. Carter objected to the new focus on raising revenue instead.
“There’s no doubt that parking is an issue at Rocky Point, but enforcement of time limits is the answer, not charging a user fee,” Carter wrote.
The issue of tight parking at the site, the possibility of introducing parking fees and options for a public consultation about a pilot project of some sort next year have gone back to staff, who have been asked to bring forward a new report.
Dilworth, who drew up the new motion delaying the project, said the aim was a project for next year, based on feedback from the public, and a final decision after the project illustrated any problems connected with the fees.
Jamie and Yvette Cuthbert, owners of Rocky Point Kayak, told council this week the idea of non-resident fees being applied this August was a mistake that would hurt the tourist business the city is trying to attract.
“This trial will have an effect on our business. This parking will hurt our sales,” Jamie Cuthbert said.
He called the park a “great public space” that attracts a large number of people in July and August — crowds “that spend money” but might be driven off by the city “spending $40,000” of its own money “for eight weeks of parking trouble.”
The couple said their business’s Facebook page has filled with negative comments about the parking fee, some of them from people who said the city was “ignorant to charge out-of-towners to park” and that they would avoid Port Moody to protest the plan.
Rocky Point pay parking on hold
by Sarah Payne – The Tri-City News
posted Jul 24, 2014 at 3:00 PM
Visitors to Rocky Point Park can save their coins for a scoop of ice cream now that Port Moody council has put plans for a pay parking trial period on the back burner.
The decision is an abrupt change of direction just two weeks after council voted to a one-year trial of pay parking at the popular PoMo park. The trial would have required that PoMo residents register up to two licence plates to qualify for free parking while visitors would pay $1 per hour for up to four hours.
A council decision from last spring to engage the city in a public consultation on the issue didn’t materialize but Tri-City residents made their feelings known regardless.
“With the public outcry we’ve had, it’s almost like armageddon we started,” quipped Coun. Bob Elliott.
During the public input session at Tuesday’s meeting, Rocky Point Kayak owner Jamie Cuthbert said the plan for pay parking didn’t mesh with efforts to increase tourism to the city, particularly by drawing visitors to the park.
“The biggest oversight of this plan is penalizing and charging the tourists who are visiting our town,” Cuthbert said. “There has been public consultation for every other major decision in this city, most recently on the monster homes, which affects a few residents. This parking plan affects over 100,000 visitors and most Port Moody residents, yet no consultation was done.”
Yvette Cuthbert added the pay parking plan seemed ill-advised and expensive for temporary parking troubles over the summer, and would hurt her business and others in the park that pay a percentage of their sales to the city.
Council agreed to have staff arrange for public consultation on pay parking at Rocky Point, and to report back for options on implementing the program next summer.