Nanaimo to implement in-house downtown parking enforcement

NANAIMO – City hall will take over parking enforcement in the downtown core at the end of 2012.

City hall will take over parking enforcement in the downtown core at the end of 2012.

Robbins Parking currently enforces downtown parking on a month-to-month contract, but Randy Churchill, the city’s manager of bylaw, regulation and security, said various studies suggested efficiencies could be found by moving downtown parking enforcement in-house.

“We perform a security function as well which is bylaw-oriented, and we also use the private contractor Footprints Security on our streets,” said Churchill. “By making this change we see it as wearing three hats and creating an efficiency by doing that. We integrate our services so that person is a bylaw officer, we’re doing parking enforcement, and they also act as an ambassador for the city at the same time.”

Churchill added a bylaw and security presence would still be in the downtown core on Sundays under the new system, even though parking meters are free that day. The level of enforcement will remain consistent.

The start-up cost of implementing the in-house parking strategy will be about $50,000 in the first year, and become revenue neutral after that.

A new parking manager, three new bylaw enforcement officers and one administrative position will be required for the move, and will be paid as per union agreements.

Churchill said those positions factor in to the revenue neutral framework.

The downtown core includes Milton Street to the south and west and Comox Road in the north. The Brechin boat ramp would also be subject to random patrols.

In 2009, the city commissioned Opus International Consultants to conduct a parking management study. Two recommendations that emerged from that study included included hiring a parking operations manager and evaluate the need for in-house parking enforcement.

Also in 2009, Meyers Norris Penny conducted a preliminary cost analysis which suggested there may be a cost savings if the city combined its downtown security, parking and ambassador programs into one city-run department. A further review by MMK Consulting, and confirmed through the city’s finance department, suggested the city would break even on costs with an in-house policy.

Other B.C. municipalities such as Kamloops, Vernon, North Vancouver, Chilliwack and Prince George all manage parking as an in-house function while Kelowna uses a system similar to Nanaimo’s current contracting out parking enforcement.

reporter2@nanaimobulletin.com