A parking proposal which called for increased paid parking without time restrictions will now be subject to public consultation.
Under the controversial plan, debated by City of Ballarat councillors at a special council meeting on Thursday night, motorists in the inner CBD were set to pay $2 per hour for parking.
An amended motion, moved by Cr Grant Tillett, stated City of Ballarat would now go through a detailed community engagement program, in respect to a new approach to parking in the CBD and hospital district.
Cr Tillett’s motion passed 8-1, with Cr Amy Johnson voting against the motion.
A further report to council, detailing the parking proposal with amendments following consultation, will return to council at the discretion of City of Ballarat’s chief executive officer Justine Linley.
Cr Tillett said the city was wrestling with an “insurmountable problem”
YOU CAN VIEW THE PLAN HERE
“There's no way this council can resolve that issue short of the injection of many millions of dollars, or if someone comes up with a park and ride system supported by the state government,” he said.
“Some will get hurt in this process, and someone will miss out on a park and some will have to pay to park.”
The report will require City of Ballarat officers to form a position on paid parking in Ballarat, how to tackle a new residential permit scheme, necessary technology and the financial implications.
But nothing proposed in the original plan by council officers has been taken off the table, which included increased costs for residential permits and 4,300 new paid parking spots.
City of Ballarat’s director of environment and infrastructure said the original proposal “was always intended to be tested” by the public, to iron out any “idiosyncrasies”
“The intent is to manage the parking system by price and advance the technology, by number plate recognition, because the time restrictions don’t work and are hard to enforce,” he said.
Cr Johnson said the city needed to “alleviate spots of pressure” such as the hospital precinct and look into solutions such as visitor permits or voucher books, or park and ride options for workers.
“This plan doesn't seem to please anybody," she said. “I suggest that at least one side of the road be dedicated to resident permit parking in areas of pressure.”
Councillor Daniel Moloney slammed the “political interference” of both Liberal and Labor members and politicians on the parking issue.
"There has been over the past couple of days a level of political interference in this council I haven’t seen in some time," he said.
"There’s no place for it, particularly when they’re yet to present their own solutions."
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Residents, workers and volunteers revolt
A broad range of the public shared their thoughts at City of Ballarat’s special council meeting on Thursday.
More than 40 submitters registered to speak, with concerns covering safety, resident amenity and the bottom dollar for workers and businesses.
Lyons Street North resident Louise Russell told the council chamber she did not think two days notice from council was adequate and feared for her safety.
“Each resident dreads the arrival of each working day if we have to move our cars. We risk death along the speed trap which was once our residential street,” she said.
Jessica Oxlay, who works in the hospital and knowledge precinct, said she currently parks in residential streets because the cost for paid parking would be up to $3,000 annually.
“The scheme is just too large. We are country Victoria, we want to have free parking to get to work, we don’t want to have to fork out extra money,” she said.
“My husband and I save that $3,000 so we can take our children on a holiday.”
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Resident Judith Buchanan said that as a volunteer, she was concerned paid parking in the CBD would restrict volunteering to those who are comfortable financially.
“There’s many hundreds of volunteers in this city,” she said. “Many of us are on a fixed income, and keep the wheels rolling on many organisations in Ballarat.
CBD worker Terrence Morse said that based on 2016 Australian Census data, around 68 per cent of 9,000 Ballarat CBD workers drive to work.
"A full time worker needs to find an extra $3480," Mr Morse said, if parking five days a week, under the proposed scheme.
“I’m all for paid parking, as long as it’s feasible, and isn’t going to cost me five percent out of wage for the year.”
How many people turned out?
It’s the problem literally on the doorstep of much of Ballarat’s public.
The council chamber was filled past its usual boundaries, with 140 residents attending Wednesday night’s meeting for a passionate discussion about the city’s parking woes.
With four hours of public submissions, many of those who addressed City of Ballarat’s councillors conceded there was a problem with the current parking scheme.
But for Caleb Leitmanis, a lawyer for youth at the Central Highlands Community Legal Centre, the changed price of parking could negatively affect some of Ballarat’s most disadvantaged.
He said the increased cost of parking outside their premises could cause a “drop off in vulnerable persons choosing to access” the service, and an increase in parking fine prosecutions.
“With such limited incomes for our clients, they simple wont be able to afford in the increase in parking fees,” Mr Leitmanis said.
“Pensioners and a lot of our clients don’t have smartphones... Time limits on parking need to be standardised, with a capped all-day price for CBD workers and volunteers.”