Mayor calls for strategy on parking

Gary Kircher
Gary Kircher
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher wants the district to have a parking strategy - and a plan for parking in Oamaru's central business district - developed in conjunction with the upcoming annual plan.

As the council's heritage, environment and regulatory committee on Tuesday reviewed council environmental services manager Jason Evered's seven-page parking review, Mr Kircher urged councillors to view the issue of parking as topical in the community.

While Mr Evered's report recommended maintaining the status quo for parking along with the development of a parking strategy over the next six months, Mr Kircher said the committee did not want to be "sending a signal that things are OK".

This week Mr Kircher said the issue of parking in Oamaru's central business district was complex.

Parking fees ensured parking spaces were turned over, and also paid for other things, including helping to keep down the rates in the Oamaru business area, and sealing off-street car parks.

"It's really easy to say `Let's just not have parking meters,"' Mr Kircher said. "But the reality is there's a lot of subtleties in car parking and at times when it's not busy it doesn't matter at all. But all too often, the place is busy.

"The basic issue is, it is complex, but I want to make sure that we have a very good look at how we can minimise the use of meters or get rid of them and be as encouraging as possible for people to use the businesses in the [central business district] and for them to be able to easily access the businesses."

Mr Kircher was criticised by Cr Melanie Tavendale for potentially adding to the workload of an already overburdened staff who were working on the annual plan, a district plan review, and a harbour master plan.

"I really want to see this work done, it's really important ... I don't see why we need to rush this," she said. "There's so much going on."

Cr Jan Wheeler said the parking meters would retain value on the council's books until 2023 and she wanted to see the assets used until then.

Cr Peter Garvan said he did not believe parking was a "silver bullet". However, he said free parking had been used elsewhere to revitalise business areas.

Cr Jim Hopkins said the one-hour free parking in the mornings disappeared by accident when the parking meters were brought on line.

Mr Evered's report includes consideration of one hour of free parking in Lower Thames St from 9am to 10am, which would result in about $19,000 lost revenue for the council.

The parking review was prompted after Cr Guy Percival, at the end of last year, called for scrapping parking meters from Oamaru's central business district to alleviate concerns over faulty machines and to help businesses in Lower Thames St.

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