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Will parking remain free in Wellington West and Westboro? City studying parking options


Time could soon run out on free on-street parking in Ottawa's Westboro, Wellington West and Hintonburg neighbourhoods.

The City of Ottawa is updating the Kitchissippi Parking Study, which looks to address parking-related issues in the popular business areas. Public meetings will be held on Saturday and Monday to discuss the recommendations for the future of free parking in the neighbourhoods.

While on-street parking is currently free on Richmond Road and Wellington Street West, the local councillor suggests the free parking will soon come to an end.

"After multiple rounds of study, it's been determined by the city that the utilization of the parking is heavy enough there that it warrants paid parking as a way to manage the supply," Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper told CTV News Ottawa on Friday.

"I've been hearing for years about the lack of parking from merchants. There comes a point at which the only tool left in the toolkit is to implement paid parking and to price it in order to ensure that parking is available when people want to use it."

There is a 90-minute maximum parking time limit from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week along the business corridor of Richmond Road and Wellington Street West.

An analysis of on-street parking shows sections of Richmond Road and Wellington Street West exceeded 85 per cent occupancy in 2023. Staff say on Wellington Street West, demand for parking has "increased since 2015, particularly in the weekday midday and afternoon time periods."

"Occupancy rates reaching or surpassing practical capacity (85 per cent) signal an inadequate parking supply, creating challenges for visitors or customers in locating parking spaces," staff said in the report. "This situation frequently leads to increased cruising traffic as drivers search for available parking."

Leiper says a lack of available parking spaces leads to people "circling the block into the residential areas trying to find parking."

"Paid parking is demonstrably how you ensure that there is that supply of parking so that if people are visiting Westboro or West Wellington or Hintonburg, they'll be able to find parking when they're looking for it," Leiper said.

The report notes previous parking studies indicate on-street parking pressures and issues are increasing in the commercial area along Richmond Road and Wellington Street West.

Bylaw Officers issued 610 tickets for parking in excess of time limits in Westboro and Wellington West in 2022, and more than 1,500 tickets for "inappropriate zone/time" parking violations.

The question is, whether the introduction of paid on-street parking will hurt businesses in Westboro and Wellington West.

"I mean, we have a lot of really vibrant commercial main streets that have paid parking," Leiper said.

"In fact, Wellington West and Westboro are really the last to have that advantage, I guess you can call it, of having free parking here. When I take a look at, you know, the Glebe, Somerset, you know, those are still very vibrant shopping areas and they have paid parking."

A report will be presented to the transportation committee in June, with council set to make a final decision on parking in the neighbourhoods this summer. Leiper says if paid on-street parking is implemented, he would like it to be delayed until 2026-27.

"Westboro still doesn't have LRT, and I'll be asking my colleagues to support delaying the implementation of paid parking maybe by a year and a half until LRT Stage 2 is open," Leiper said.

"Many of those staff who are in the retail shops up and down the strip here will be able to get to work via public transit more easily."

The first public meeting is set for Saturday at the Westboro Masonic Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The second meeting is Monday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Hintonburg Community Centre.

Business owners and residents react to paying for parking

Jason Fuerst, administrative coordinator with the Wellington West BIA, says his members are opposed to paid parking.

"We have over 650 members in our BIA and they are broadly against it for two reasons. One, because if it was going to have a negative impact on their business, it's also going to have a negative impact on their ability to find and retain staff."

He says the second reason is that free parking helps to build a sense of community in our area.

"It allows somebody to come and park and explore the area rather than just going specifically into one store. And so by allowing customers to explore, it also helps to potentially build up business with our other members."

Hani Mansour runs Chez Francois, a French café and shop on Richmond Road in Westboro. He says one of the attractions to the area is the free parking. He worries that fewer customers will come.

"I think it's a bad idea. I think that a lot of businesses here thrive because it's free parking and our customers enjoy it because they get to park and they don't have to worry about having loose change or things like that to find a spot. So I think it really hurt a lot of businesses in the area," Mansour says. "It kind of makes it kind of like a like a village feel where everyone's working together as a community."

Residents are also questioning if it will have much of an impact.

"I'm totally against that. It will kill businesses around here," said Steve Potter, who lives in Westboro.

Potter also points to new transit coming to the area. "They are planning a transit station near here. There's going to be a lot of traffic and they will not be using cars and. I don't think (traffic) is a real issue right now."

Tom and Susan Harris drove to the area from Centrepointe and say a key draw was the free parking.

"We are seniors and we try and park somewhere for three hour parking as opposed to paying," said Susan Harris.

Tom Harris adds, "It is busy because you can park for free. I like that. You can park for free. You just build the park for free in the market. We used to go more often. We don't go as often now because. Yeah, it's expensive, you know, everything adds up. Everything adds up." Top Stories

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