CBD parking situation must be carefully thought out

EDITORIAL

Something must be done — that is the clear theme that has come from this week’s discussion on inner city parking at the District Council’s environmental and regulations committee. The question is what.

A thorough and carefully-prepared staff report has left the council with four options ranging from the status quo, which is almost certainly a non-runner, to at least some restricted-time free parking and/or a fee reduction.

The next stage will be consultation, which actually has been going on in one form or another now for a long time. This is far from a new issue.

Retailers in the central business district have really felt the pinch since the council decided to increase the meter fee from $1 to $2.

The standing joke is that you could fire a cannon down the main street on the first three days of the week and not hit anything.

The view from this week’s committee quite strongly seemed to be that some form of relief was needed.

Committee members with retailing experience, Larry Foster and new councillor Malcolm Maclean, between them suggested either providing some limited-time free parking or at least dropping the meter fee to $1. While this would hopefully bring some life to the city centre, it would come at some financial cost.

Then there is the fact that Gisborne’s meters are out of date and need upgrading to satisfy new technology like smart cards and pay waves.

Some committee members were strongly opposed to spending up to $1 million on this.

A free parking trial instigated by Mayor Meng Foon this year proved to be inconclusive.

Regular travellers north have noticed the situation in Whakatane where limited-time parking seems to have kept the business centre vibrant despite the presence of a major retail complex on the outskirts.

Something similar is needed here but it must be carefully thought out. Get it right is the heartfelt message from retailers, and the public, to the council.

Something must be done — that is the clear theme that has come from this week’s discussion on inner city parking at the District Council’s environmental and regulations committee. The question is what.

A thorough and carefully-prepared staff report has left the council with four options ranging from the status quo, which is almost certainly a non-runner, to at least some restricted-time free parking and/or a fee reduction.

The next stage will be consultation, which actually has been going on in one form or another now for a long time. This is far from a new issue.

Retailers in the central business district have really felt the pinch since the council decided to increase the meter fee from $1 to $2.

The standing joke is that you could fire a cannon down the main street on the first three days of the week and not hit anything.

The view from this week’s committee quite strongly seemed to be that some form of relief was needed.

Committee members with retailing experience, Larry Foster and new councillor Malcolm Maclean, between them suggested either providing some limited-time free parking or at least dropping the meter fee to $1. While this would hopefully bring some life to the city centre, it would come at some financial cost.

Then there is the fact that Gisborne’s meters are out of date and need upgrading to satisfy new technology like smart cards and pay waves.

Some committee members were strongly opposed to spending up to $1 million on this.

A free parking trial instigated by Mayor Meng Foon this year proved to be inconclusive.

Regular travellers north have noticed the situation in Whakatane where limited-time parking seems to have kept the business centre vibrant despite the presence of a major retail complex on the outskirts.

Something similar is needed here but it must be carefully thought out. Get it right is the heartfelt message from retailers, and the public, to the council.

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