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Paid parking on Saturdays coming to Spring Garden area, downtown Halifax, Dartmouth

Paid parking on Saturdays will be coming to the Spring Garden area, downtown Halifax and downtown Dartmouth after the Halifax Regional Municipality's budget committee approved the adjustment to this year's budget on Wednesday. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
Paid parking on Saturdays will be coming to the Spring Garden area, downtown Halifax and downtown Dartmouth after the Halifax Regional Municipality's budget committee approved the adjustment to this year's budget on Wednesday. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

Paid parking on Saturdays is coming to parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality after its budget committee approved the 2023-2024 adjustment list Wednesday.

The move means drivers will have to pay to park in the Spring Garden Road area and in downtown Halifax and Dartmouth from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

The business associations of those areas wrote a letter to the committee opposing the move, saying it will disadvantage their members in comparison to big box stores and malls.

"Implementing these changes, for the first time, may bring in a modest return for the municipality's general revenues, but it would come at a real cost to our businesses, and add to the customer perception that downtown is not convenient," the letter reads.

In a briefing note, staff pointed out that most similar jurisdictions across the country charge for parking on Saturdays, though Halifax will be the first in the Atlantic provinces.

The motion narrowly passed with nine committee members voting for Saturday paid parking and 8 members voting against it.

Coun. Tim Outhit said now isn't the right time to charge for Saturday parking as there aren't enough other transit options.

"I think there's a time when you have to have carrot and stick, but unfortunately we don't have the carrot," he said.

Could help with turnover, says councillor

But Coun. Patty Cuttell said she believes paid parking will in fact help downtown business because it encourages turnover.

"I think if you go downtown on a Saturday, you know, for those of us that don't have a weekend bus service and have to take our cars, it is very, very hard to find an on street parking spot because people are parking there all day long," she said.

The committee also considered extending paid parking on weekdays from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., but opted against it.

Saturday parking revenues will help pay in part for some of the other budget additions approved by the committee, including:

  • Hiring seven positions to implement the HalifACT climate plan and hiring a coordinator for the Green Network Plan.

  • Hiring four additional RCMP officers.

  • Funding to support the Public Safety Strategy.

  • Increased funding for library collections.

  • Increased arts grants.

All of the adjustments will be applied to the finalized budget which is set to be approved by council at the end of April.

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