Business districts react to free parking in Westboro and Hintonburg

Representatives of other business districts in the city are reacting to the suggestion that Westboro and Hintonburg should get to keep their free parking.

A report is being prepared for Ottawa’s transportation committee that recommends free parking with 90-minute time limits in Westboro and Hintonburg instead of paid meters. Kitchissippi ward Councillor Jeff Leiper says “now is not the time” for paid meters in the area.

Lori Mellor, the Executive Director of the Preston Street BIA, tells CFRA that free parking with a 90-minute limit is a great idea, so long as Little Italy gets the same treatment.

“That sounds like a dandy solution and we’ll be happy to lose our metered parking,” she says.

Mellor says Little Italy is close enough to Hintonburg that metered parking in one area but not another creates an unfair playing field.

“They’re a quarter of a mile away. If you have an option of going to a restaurant on Wellington or on Preston, and you don’t have to pay parking, that’s a really unfair advantage.”

“It makes having lunch a little expensive,” Mellor says. “Our customers get double-whammied. They pay to park and if they go over five minutes, by-law is right on them with a ticket.”

Metered parking may be unpopular but Andre Schad, a ByWard Market business owner, sees an upside to it.

He tells CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Evan Solomon meters actually help businesses.

“Retailers need turnover,” he says. “Your customers come in, they shop, and they leave and let another group come in. If you don’t have meters, people park there all day and then they run around and do other things where they’re not spending money.”

But Schad agrees that parking prices and time limits need to be reasonable.

Schad says he doesn’t believe parking meters will ever be removed from the Market.

“We always want free parking; it’s never going to happen. We just want to compete on the same, level playing field that other areas get,” he says. “I don’t know why [Westboro and Hintonburg] wouldn’t have meters to begin with. They’re eight, nine times the size of the retail sector of ByWard and they should have meters to make it a playing field. ByWard can’t foot the bill on parking and enforcement and parking garages for the entire city all the time.”

“If it’s good enough, people will pay to park,” Schad says.