Ballarat business owners are weighing up how the latest iteration of a contentious parking proposal could affect their bottom line.
A proposal by City of Ballarat, not yet minted by councillors, was announced on Monday which included staggered parking pricing in the CBD and the provision of 30 minutes free parking in any space.
For those who wanted to park all day in Zone 1 - the centre of the CBD encompassing Sturt Street and many streets near the hospital precinct - they would pay more than $30 per day.
Hair Republic salon owner Natalie Walker said her primary concern with the plan was for her predominately young, female staff, who may have to walk further to return to their cars late at night.
"At this stage we do work a few 12 hour shifts, in order to cater for clients at work all day," she said.
"Many are going to have to park a lot further away, they'll be walking at 9pm through the Ballarat winter for four or or five blocks. I'm quite concerned about it.
"And if they do want to park near the CBD, they'll have to pay $30 per day, which is a huge amount of money.
She said another multi-storey car park near the centre of town would be "amazing", and hoped changes made last year to create only one hour parking out the front of her salon would be repealed.
"There’s five hair and beauty salons, and generally people are not in salon for under an hour. A return to two hours parking would be fantastic," she said.
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Robert Murphy, who assists his wife Julie in the running of her Sturt Street fashion store, said they had already seen a "decrease in people and foot traffic" following sections of the street being made one hour parking in October last year.
"There needs to be something more significant than 30 minutes free parking. When it was two hours out the front, there was enough time to have a good look around and try some clothes on," he said.
After buying the business 18 months ago, he said shop staff "can't afford" to park in proximity to the shop, and public transport links weren't strong enough yet.
Central Ward councillor Mark Harris said there was competing interests, including understanding where 1000 free car parks from the state government will go, which might cause parts of the proposal to be delayed.
"These are some significant game changers, so it may be prudent to include that (in the final plan) and not rush," he said.
"But the crunch is starting to happen near the hospital, and if you're a resident with someone cosntantly parking in front of your place, you need some action now."
The proposal from council officers will be considered by councillors on February 20.
University students say parking cost will hit hip pocket
For Ballarat university student Mimi Ingram, just a few days of having to pay for parking could topple her weekly budget.
The Australian Catholic University nursing and paramedicine student said under City of Ballarat's new potential proposal, two days of paid parking near the hospital would add up to around $60, more than what she now spends on food per week.
Under the new proposal, parking around both the Australian Catholic University Aquinas campus and Federation University's Camp Street campus will change.
While one side of Camp Street is now free three-hour parking, it will be altered into paid parking under the new plan. At ACU, additional paid parking on Mair Street and shortened free timed parking has created angst.
"I have to budget pretty tight, I've paid more to live in Ballarat so I can work more and go to uni here," Ms Ingram said. "Parking is an expense you don't plan on, and you don't really want to live off instant noodles.
"Putting more paid parking around a hospital area, especially, is too far out."
The Courier understands Federation University's student senate has contacted City of Ballarat in the wake of the new parking proposal, after students raised concerns about affordability.
A petition created by a Ballarat university student received more than 1,700 signatures online, before it was closed on Wednesday.
"For anyone this is expensive, let alone low-income earners, students, pensioners or hospital goers," said the author of the petition.
"Not everyone has the option, time or ability to park far away and walk, especially in a typical Ballarat winter. The proposed plan means that only those that can afford it can easily access education, hospital facilities and the CBD."