City moves to prop up paving program with parking meter rate rise

Meters will still receive quarters, loonies and toonies, but the cost per hour is increasing to $1.25 after council passed third reading of the bylaw to change parking rates. — The Nelson Daily file photo
Meters will still receive quarters, loonies and toonies, but the cost per hour is increasing to $1.25 after council passed third reading of the bylaw to change parking rates. — The Nelson Daily file photo

With parking space already at a premium in the city's downtown, the premium people pay to park is now going up.

City council approved third reading on a change to the per hour rates they charge for metered parking, increasing the cost by 25 per cent, from $1 per hour to $1.25.

There is certainly a range of other issues regarding parking and the condition of city roads that need to be discussed at the council table, said Coun. Michael Daily, but the rate rise for parking was not one of them.

"This is housekeeping, really, bringing this up to the cost of inflation," he said.

An estimated $75,000 will be generated from increased parking meter revenues this year and will go into the city's capital reserve fund — a fund used primarily to pave streets. The increase will bring an estimated $115,000 per year into the city coffers.

Council previously asked the director of Public Works and Utilities, Colin Innes, for an assessment of the city roads and when he delivered his report it was determined that what the city was investing in its roads was inadequate.

"Many of our roads are reaching 30 years of life," said city manager Kevin Cormack. "He felt the standard of roads in many communities was 15 years."

The report revealed the city needed to invest an extra $600,000 per year to repaying and refurbishing its roads. The parking meter revenue rise was one step in trying to raise those funds, Cormack explained.

"If you let your roads go past that tipping point you begin to lose that road base and then the costs would be almost double what the costs are if you do the resurfacing at the right time," he said.

At a special committee-of-the-whole budget meeting held on Jan. 27 council directed that staff increase the parking meter rate by 25 per cent, after the operating and capital plans for the city's general fund were reviewed and alternative sources of revenue from property taxes were sought.

Council considered options for increasing revenue and directed that parking meter rates increase  — the previous parking meter increase occurred in 2011. 

The increase might not generate as much money as estimated, however, since the city is prepared for some backlash from the public.

"Increased parking rates may also encourage people to use alternative forms of transportation such as transit, cycling and walking," read a city staff report to council.

According to city data, approximately 750 meters are located within the city in the downtown. The bylaw department will be required to place new rate stickers on each meter and re-program all meters. 

Parking ticket dispensers will also be located at Hall Street plaza area and the city parking lot near the rear of the Prestige Lakeside Resort.

DTUC literary remains to be dispersed

The last literary vestiges of the city's university are going to be erased.

The David Thompson University Centre library collection will be offered up to the public to select books for free in an effort to dismantle a collection that has survived since the university closed its doors in 1984.

All remaining books after the sale will be offered to an organization for resale at no charge and any books remaining following the public sale and offer to a reseller will be recycled. 

Coun. Val Warmington thought the collection was already significantly picked over and was at the end of its usefulness, as well as the city not having the capacity to store the books.

"It seems that offering the books once again to people is a good way to approach this," she said.

The city had been contacted by former members of Nelson University Centre Education Society (NUC) asking it to store the collection in the chance that a university may be reestablished in Nelson at some point in the future. 

"They feel that ownership of an existing collection may positively impact that opportunity," read a city staff report to council.

The books are currently stored by a private citizen, an agreement that was made by the NUC in 2008. Approximately 3,000 boxes of books are stored at the location.

The city contacted Gregg Currie, Selkirk College librarian, and June Stockdale, the city’s chief librarian, for their professional comments and recommendation on the matter.

Currie has worked at the University of Washington and the University of Toronto as a student, and as a librarian in New York at The New York Public Library, The Pratt Institute, Fordham University and here at Selkirk College. 

"And based on those 25 years of working in libraries, it is my professional opinion that holding onto the DTUC collection is a fool's errand," he said. "It is time to face the hard truth that the responsible thing for the City of Nelson to do is to dispose of the DTUC collection by sale, or recycling."

It costs about $15 per book in terms of labour costs to process a donated book for a library collection. That means it would cost about $750,000 for a new library to add the DTUC books to its collection.

"And I can predict with 99.9 per cent certainty that no library director would ever choose to spend that kind of money on adding old books as opposed to buying new books," he added.

Notification of the offering will be made through Facebook, the city's website and advertisements of the opportunity to select books.