By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
Parking rates in Dundas off-street lots are jumping to 75 cents an hour this week.
Ted Arnold, City of Hamilton manager of parking operations and maintenance, said the 15 cent an hour increase is being implemented only in Dundas, effective Friday, Jan. 10.
“We periodically increase the rates as a matter of inflation,” Arnold said. “We were due for an increase in Dundas. In recent memory…I can’t tell you the last time they were increased.”
The jump to 75 cents an hour, from the previous 60 cents an hour, to park in six of Dundas’ eight off-street lots puts Dundas above some areas of the city, but still lower than others. The new rate is less than most downtown Hamilton lots – except Car Park 49 at Barton and Caroline, which costs 50 cents an hour.
But there are 18 municipal lots in East Hamilton that cost 55 cents or 50 cents an hour, and two of the four Mountain municipal lots are 50 cents an hour. The other two Mountain lots are at the 75 cent rate.
There are no paid municipal parking lots in Ancaster, Stoney Creek or Waterdown.
Street parking meters in all areas of the city cost $1 an hour and will remain at that rate.
Stickers announcing the rate increase were attached to ticket dispensing machines in the Dundas parking lots late last week.
Two smaller Dundas parking lots with individually metered parking spaces will continue to charge the current street meter rate of $1 an hour.
Arnold said city council approval was not required for the rate increase, because the Hamilton Municipal Parking Authority has delegated authority to increase its parking rates as necessary. He said the department speaks to local area councillors before implementing a parking rate increase.
“We certainly spoke to councillor Powers before doing this,” Arnold said.
Powers was on vacation last week and unavailable for comment by deadline.
“As we review our operations, we adapt our rates accordingly,” Arnold said, adding hourly rates in busier municipal parking lots are higher than rates in less used lots.
In 2008, the City of Hamilton reviewed its parking fees, fines and considered a variety of possible ways to enhance revenues.
A consultant completed an in-depth review of Hamilton’s municipal parking program six years ago and recommended that parking rates across the city be increased – and consolidated in to fewer categories.
The consultant specifically recommended that all municipal parking lots then charging 50 or 55 cents an hour should be increased to 75 cents an hour.
Since the report, this week’s increase in Dundas is the first one to follow the recommendation.
Those rate increases, the consultant recommended, should only take place if the resulting revenues would be spent on maintaining existing parking facilities and building new parking.
“Secondly, the rate increases should be subject to some of the parking revenues being allocated for other improvements in the area where the additional parking revenues will be generated,” the consultant’s 2008 report states. “It would be up to the Business Improvement Associations and other representatives in these areas to determine how these additional revenues would be reinvested to address the needs of these areas.”
The consultant report suggested its recommendations for rate increases for all areas of the city at the same time were an approach that worked towards “harmonization for the amalgamated city, while being cognizant of local differences and needs.”
In 2011, the City of Hamilton hiked monthly parking rates in Dundas lots by $12 to $35 a month.
At the time, Arnold told the Dundas Star News: “We haven’t had an increase in Dundas since amalgamation,” Arnold said. “It’s time to do it to keep ourselves in the black.”