Westboro will keep its free parking for now, even if Ottawa's policy is unfair

Other business areas view the free parking as an unfair advantage that attracts customers
Parking

Wellington West and Westboro will hold onto their “golden goose” free parking – for now. But the city plans to re-evaluate their parking process.

City councillors faced pressure this week from other economic areas to implement paid parking.

Byward Market retailer Andre Schad said the inconsistency of paid parking across the city is unfair. He said the allure of free parking attracts customers to Wellington West, while the Byward Market is punished with paid parking.

“I can’t understand why this is even a discussion,” he said. “We realize paid parking is here to stay, but it has to be here to stay for everybody.”

Schad said retailers are struggling to exist in the Byward, threatened by high rent and a reputation for expensive parking and homeless shelters.

“I think I speak on behalf of most retailers. A lot of them are going to Westboro where it’s more business friendly,” he said.

A recent parking study found the Westboro area should qualify for paid parking, but the current rules require the support of the local Business Improvement Association and community association to make the changes.

The majority of businesses and residents were not willing to approve the change.

Coun. Mathieu Fleury proposed implementing paid parking anyway, but city staff raised concern that it could open up a potential for a legal challenge.

In the end, Fleury withdrew his motion and instead councillors are asking city staff to review the rules that require the BIA approval.

“For a year and a half the city has been telling residents and businesses ‘You get to say whether or not paid parking goes in,’” said Coun. Jeff Leiper. “I’m pleased we’re going to respect that process.”

“But we’ve also heard, very clearly from councillors and BIAs across the city that if that’s the result of the process, then the process needs to change. Under the current process, paid parking is unlikely to ever go in anywhere,” he said.

This story originally appeared in Metro News.