Cornwall parking fee hike in the wings

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – After 11 years at the same price, the cost of parking in the City of Cornwall will be going up soon.

City council agreed Monday (Aug. 9) with all recommendations from the parking working group, which includes raising the hourly parking rate from $1 to $1.50 per hour with a tentative start date of January 2022. The motion was put forward by Coun. Todd Bennett and supported by Coun. Elaine MacDonald.

While council passed the motion, it actually hasn’t enacted the proposals, which will come in a separate vote on each one through a change to bylaws.

After raising the parking fee to $1.50, it would go up 10 cents an hour every year for the following five years, netting an extra $25,000 every year. The initial hike to $1.50 is estimated to generate roughly $135,000 more in revenue.

When the new fees come into play, the city also plans to kill the two hour complimentary parking that was put in place during the pandemic.

As for how it will be received by the business community, Mayor Glen Grant says the Downtown Business Improvement Area “didn’t even blink twice when we talked about $2.00” an hour, suggesting that higher parking fees aren’t an issue.

Also in the 13 recommendations are adding designed overnight parking spots, where people can park for $3 between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 24-hour stalls where people could park for $80 a month.

While Planning General Manager Mark Boileau acknowledged there isn’t a parking shortage, the city will be adding public parking spots. One place is the municipal lot north of the courthouse on Third Street where a row of spots will be designated as public parking. On-street parking would be added in the Cotton Mill District as well along Harbour Road, Edward Street and Cotton Mill Street.

Speaking about the report, Coun. Carilyne Hebert said the working group has “gone above and beyond what this council asked for and uncovered issues we didn’t realize were there.”

CFO Tracey Bailey told council that the parking program is not covering its costs, meaning that taxpayers will foot the bill this year. “We are going to the reserve to help fund at the end of the year – a shortfall,” she said.

The parking program is projected to have a revenue shortfall of $300,000 this year. There is only $129,578 in a designated parking reserve account as of the end of June.