An outcry from Sudbury's downtown businesses has prompted Greater Sudbury city council to reinstate metered parking fees, which had been suspended during the pandemic.
Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland brought forward a members' motion at Tuesday's council meeting.
"This motion is a reconsideration of our earlier motion to alleviate parking fees in the downtown and it's in response to the reality that has been the result of that," said McCausland.
"We all had the absolute best intentions when that motion was passed, but unfortunately, the result has kind of proven why you charge for on-street parking, because the result has been vehicles parked on the street for days on end.
“Many employees park on the street, and local businesses are crying out, saying 'What can we do? Our customers cannot get to us.’”
Council made temporary changes to help residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, waiving metered parking fees back in March.
Sudbury is currently in phase two of reopening and many downtown businesses have been able to reopen their doors. The issue, as explained by McCausland, is that many people are still taking advantage of the free downtown parking, taking up spots that could be used by customers.
The Downtown Sudbury BIA has actually been leaving notes on vehicles parked at meters downtown this week, asking that downtown employees, tradesworkers and residents support local businesses by not parking at curbside parking spots.
"It's an unfortunate situation, and I don't fault anyone, because we were all trying to do our best, but if we can change this tonight, then the soonest this will be able to come into effect is July 2," said McCausland.
"This is coupled with the remaining support for downtown businesses in that the enforcement of our municipal parking lots will not remain, there will be no enforcement on lots, so employees and people who might be there for a long time, residents, will be able to use those lots and receive some support from the city.
“But for those critical on-street parking spots that allow businesses to function, they will hopefully be back open for people to use through the reinstatement of enforcement on the street."
The councillor also stated that people had been parking their cars overnight on streets downtown while there was no metered parking enforcement.
Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc questioned whether reinstating metered parking fees and enforcement would have any impact on downtown businesses that have set up patios outside of their storefronts.
"Generally speaking, we deal with patio requests from businesses on a case by case (basis)," said Meredith Armstrong, director of economic development.
"In the cases where a business is seeking to use a public parking spot, at this point there are no fees for setting up patios, so there is no impact to the business for that potential revenue loss of those individual spots. Normally it's one or two spots only, so I don't have an overall number for the impact there, but we do deal with that on a case-by-case."
Generally, downtown businesses have been using sidewalk space to accommodate a patio setup, but there is an option to utilize the entire width of the sidewalk, and the business would take responsibility for traffic control through the parking spaces in front of the patio - Peddler's Pub, for example, has a setup like this.
Council voted in favour of reinstating metered parking fees in the downtown, and they can be reinstated as early as July 2.