Parking changes considered for city

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THE cost of parking in the Invercargill CBD has increased, and other parking changes are likely.
Parking meter charges rose at the start of this month, but some free parking may be introduced in Esk St and parking time limits may be imposed on residential streets close to the CBD.
The changes were part of a wider strategy to encourage traffic flow within the city, Invercargill City Council (ICC) roading manager Russell Pearson said.
Part of the strategy included investigating free 30-minute parks in Esk St, CBD redevelopment committee chairman Cr Graham Sycamore said.
There had been ‘‘a lot of discussion’’ with city businesses, including analysis of parking habits in Esk St, to decide what would work best. The outcome had yet to be confirmed, he said.
Complaints from residents in Gala, Forth and parts of Kelvin St, where city workers parked all day, meant parking time limits might be imposed in those areas, he said.
Metered parking costs in the CBD have increased by 30c per hour to $1.50. The cost was still among the cheapest in New Zealand and the ICC had not received any public criticism, Mr Pearson said.
The ICC ‘‘never like to increase charges’’ but it was important parking costs were at a level people valued, while at the same time encouraging them to ‘‘stay but move on’’, he said.
In 2013, the ICC adopted an ambitious plan to upgrade the CBD and entice more shoppers back, including two ‘‘family-friendly anchor’’ spaces, pocket parks, and pedestrian shelters. So far, the Esk St upgrade had been completed and some progress had been made on other parts of the plan.
In Hastings, which had a similar population to Invercargill, the Hastings District Council (HDC) was midway though a year-long trial of free parking in its CBD.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said while it would have been easier to put in more meters or increase parking charges, the HDC decided free parking was a better way to get shoppers back into the city.
While statistics showed central city businesses were definitely busier, it was difficult to pin that directly on free parking, he said.
Mr Pearson said the ICC did not think increasing parking charges stopped people from ‘‘coming in and shopping’’.
‘‘It’s a form of keeping the traffic moving. We know that people who stay longer spend more, but that need can be met through recreational seating and amenity values, not just through offering free parking.’’
He said free parking was useful within a block of the CBD, such as the free 90 minutes (P90) central parking area introduced in The Crescent in February.
Free P90 parking was also planned for the top level of the Leven St car park building, behind the Invercargill Public Library.
Frogparking sensors — technology which monitors parking on individual parks — had also been installed to gather parking data within Esk St and at South City, he said.
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