Free short-term parking on Fredericton's Carleton Street

Turning part of Fredericton's Carleton Street into a shared street for vehicles and pedestrians has created an unexpected benefit for drivers — free parking.

The city's senior planner has asked council to allow free 30-minute parking in front of the Fredericton Public Library as part of a pilot project.

Meredith Gilbert told council-in-committee Monday night that the original idea was to have a parking pay station for those nine spaces, but that didn't work out as planned.

"The city is continuing with its parking master plan to look at technology solutions going forward, so we're not prepared at this time to put in a new pay station," said Gilbert.

Reinstalling the parking meters was also ruled out after it was discovered the posts could damage the underground electrical conduit in the area, she said.

Time limit will be enforced

Gilbert said offering some free short-term parking in the downtown core would have benefits for both drivers and businesses, and the revenue impacts for the city would be minimal.

"The trade-off is economic investment from folks who would be coming into the downtown to make those short trips who might not otherwise," said Gilbert.

The high parking turnover will also make it easier to clear the street for planned activities such as night markets or concerts, she said.

"Our enforcement officers will monitor the vehicle turnover and ticket as needed," said Gilbert, adding that the public would be made aware of the change before it happened.

City staff are also in talks with HotSpot Parking about creating a free pay-by-phone zone to make it easier for parking enforcement officers to monitor the area, she said.

Council-in-committee voted in favour of the idea and forwarded it on to council for final approval.