Source: Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce
The announcement around the proposed price increase for parking in Christchurch’s city centre has not been welcomed by the local business community, according to Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson.
"This price hike for parking is incredibly disappointing," says Ms Watson. "This works against everything we have been fighting so hard for over the last few years and comes at a time when central city businesses need support – not another barrier.
"At the end of last year, in the six weeks leading up to Christmas, the central city core spending increased 17% to $42million when compared to the same period in the previous year. I am concerned that this parking increase will slow or stall that positive momentum just as we are hitting our stride. I am also concerned that this timing coincides with us heading into the cooler months – potentially compounding a possible seasonal decrease in foot pedestrian traffic and spending."
Recommended new fees outlined in the Council's draft annual plan include $4 for one hour's on-street metered parking – an increase of 90 cents. Ms Watson says this announcement suggests a lack of consultation and engagement with central city business owners.
"When talking to local businesses in the central city, a constant concern is parking, so we would be very interested to see the consultation process on this decision and to understand the business case behind it. While we absolutely support the Council looking at ways to increase revenue, it should not be at the expense of the engine room of our city when there are other avenues that could have been explored first.
"We would very much like to see stronger engagement from the Council with the local business community when it comes to proposals such as this that could significantly impact their businesses."
Ms Watson says this proposed change could possibly derail the Council’s own vision for the central city.
"A parking price increase may help to reduce traffic congestion in the city, but we don’t currently have an easily-accessible, reliable public transport system as an alternative. With the additional price increase of residents’ on-street parking permits, this could compromise the Council’s target of creating 15,000 new jobs in the central city in the next five years and 20,000 residing in the area.
"We believe more can be done to ensure those businesses that have invested in returning to a still-recovering central city are given every opportunity to succeed and are valued for their strong leadership and support for our city. As the heart of our city and region, we need to maintain our focus on creating a vibrant, prosperous and sustainable 21st century city experience."