Vehicle owners can stop worrying about having enough spare change handy when parking for downtown shopping. Metered parking spots

Weekend parking free downtown Nanaimo

NANAIMO – City council has approved promotion of free evening and weekend parking downtown.

Downtown street stalls are now free on Saturdays thanks to a change that a Nanaimo merchant organization calls one of the most “positively impactful adjustments” to parking policy in years.

For the next year, people will no longer have to pay on Saturdays to use metered street stalls downtown, adding to parking already free for drivers on Sunday, evenings and statutory holidays.

The new one-year pilot program, approved by Nanaimo city council last week, was driven by the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association, which aims to boost parking demand and the number of people who visit the south-end shopping district.

In a letter to the city, John Cooper, association president, said many downtown business owners are still struggling to attract customers while commercial vacancy rates have never been higher.

With parking infrastructure use also low, and no demand for parking on evenings and weekends, the organization believes it’s “critically important” to offer free parking during off-peak hours.

The new change is for on-street metered spots in the Old City Quarter and downtown and carries a two-hour limit.

It does not apply to the Harbourfront and Port of Nanaimo parkades and will be monitored by the city to see if traffic increases on weekends.

It also follows a year-long trial to offer free weekend parking at the Bastion Street parkade and a city parking strategy that’s set to eliminate free two-hour parking downtown and increase meter rates for the first time in a decade.

“It’s a good first step,” said Cooper, who said it’s among a number of things on which the organization has been working with the city and its parking administration and provides a valuable promotional opportunity for downtown businesses. “We are hoping it’s going to have a big improvement on downtown economic activity.”

Coun. Ian Thorpe supported the trial run.

“That’s an excellent first step and we can see where it goes to and in the meantime, hopefully be having ongoing discussions about the city’s philosophy about parking and metering and other issues,” he said.

Coun. Jim Kipp also supported the promotion of free parking, but said the city has to look at dismantling parking meters downtown.

Even without the Saturday revenue, the City of Nanaimo still expects to make between $8,000 and $12,000 more than previous years because of increased parking fees under its new strategy. Progress of the pilot will be tracked by the business improvement association and City of Nanaimo over the next year. A report will go to council at the end of the trial period next December.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Frankenstein’ to be adapted as silent film made in real time at Port Theatre

Production merges stories of author Mary Shelley and character Victor Frankenstein

City of Nanaimo mulling sponsorship policy

Finance and audit committee recommends approving plan to create policy around facility naming rights

Nanaimo Art Gallery requesting $200,000 to upgrade its downtown space

Councillors supportive of NAG’s plans, but no decision made on increasing financial assistance

No credible threat found during high school lockdown, say Nanaimo RCMP

Police won’t say if lockdown at Dover Bay Secondary was related to one at the school last fall

UPDATE: Nanaimo’s Dover Bay Secondary no longer under lockdown

Nanaimo RCMP say McGirr Elementary no longer under hold-and-secure procedures.

No credible threat found during high school lockdown, say Nanaimo RCMP

Police won’t say if lockdown at Dover Bay Secondary was related to one at the school last fall

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Council approves two retail cannabis stores for Ladysmith

Their applications are now in the hands of the provincial government

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

B.C. massage therapist suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct

While suspended, Leonard Krekic is not entitled to practice as an RMT in B.C.

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

Most Read