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Realtor feels new parking rules hurting downtown business

A Prince George realtor feels the city’s new downtown parking rules are having a negative effect on businesses downtown.

Dean Birks says the new three-hour free parking limit, combined with the new licence plate recognition system, could result in downtown restaurants losing out.

“Today was the first time that I personally experienced the hardship the downtown business and restaurants must be enduring and they may not even know it,” he posted on his Facebook page last week.

He said a group of 83 local realtors attended a meeting, which ran from 9 a.m. until noon, at the Ramada Hotel.

“At about 11:35am my table (seven of us) started to talk about where to go for lunch and we had agreed to walk over to The Twisted Cork restaurant that was within a block of Ramada,” he posted. “As we walked through the Ramada lobby on our way over, someone pointed out that our three-hour parking limit would be up in 15 minutes and none of us wanted to be paying any parking tickets as the new parking rules in

downtown P.G. state you cannot accumulate more than three hours total for any one day. So sadly guess what we did? We decided on a restaurant outside of the downtown to go eat as all our parking time was used up for the day.” Previously, those parking on city streets would be allowed two hours of free parking, which resulted in many people doing business downtown parking on city streets and moving their vehicles every two hours. Businesses complained about this practice, which prompted the city to change its parking regulations. Under the new system, motorists can park for free for three hours. However, the three-hour limit starts from when your licence plate is scanned. If your plate is scanned more than three hours later, regardless of how many times you have moved your vehicle or even if you have left the downtown area and returned, you get a ticket. “I must admit for the first time I actually stopped and thought how sad that 83 realtors came down town for a meeting only to have to leave the area in order to eat,” Birks posted. “Downtown Prince George has a large number of excellent and varied restaurants and they could not benefit from our group being nearby. On top of that, I myself had planned to do some Christmas shopping at a few of the stores downtown prior to leaving the area, but nope, I could not do that either. I thought about the amount of money that was lost for downtown business today by just the group I was with. I’m not sure what the cure is, but for sure a three-hour maximum parking per day per car downtown is not it.” In announcing the changes, the city has stressed off-street parking is available downtown. The city has five parkades and 10 parking lots available in the downtown area, with nearly 2,000 parking stalls available. The Fifth Avenue Parkade is across the street from the Ramada and another outside parking lot is available on Sixth Avenue, about a block away from the Ramada. The charge for parking in these lots is 75 cents per hour or four dollars per day. There are also privately owned lots available for rent downtown.

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