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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.

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