Door open for more complimentary parking

Clock is ticking: Complimentary timed parking in the Shepparton CBD will be revisited by the end of the year by councillors. Photo by Madeleine Caccianiga

The door has been left open for more complimentary timed parking in the Shepparton central business district, with councillors choosing to only note a comprehensive review at the June meeting.

A recommendation to continue the paid timed parking regime with a one-month complimentary parking period over Christmas was not acted upon by councillors.

Cr Anthony Brophy, who commissioned the report through a notice of motion in February, moved to note the contents and leave the option to consider future complimentary parking periods open.

“It may not be included in this budget, but we will be looking at it closer to the summer period,” he said.

Cr Fern Summer said whatever was decided should remain in place for a number of years.

“Chopping and changing can be so confusing for the public, and being inconsistent can see them at risk of more fines,” she said.

Cr Sam Spinks told the meeting the design of the CBD and the history of the precinct required timed parking, and the question ultimately would be who paid to enforce it.

“I very much support that one way or another it is time to make a decision down the track,” she said.

Speaking after the meeting Mayor Shane Sali said the cost impact of implementing complimentary parking would have been the equivalent of the cost of reducing the rate increase from 1.75 per cent to zero.

“The parking benefits those that come to the Shepparton CBD, the rates benefit the whole community, so there clearly wasn’t enough appetite for more councillors to consider a higher rate to offset the additional cost, when that only really benefits the Shepparton CBD,” he said.

Cr Sali said council would continue to invest in the CBD to improve the visitor experience, including extensions to the popular bud lighting.

“My personal opinion is that parking is one of the many elements that provide a successful and vibrant CBD,” Cr Sali said.

“The Maude St Mall investment is going to be significant, and we don't know what that's going to do to the shopping experience within the CBD, but again, that's another element to the success of the precinct.”

Nearly 65 per cent of businesses in Shepparton’s CBD reported a ‘very positive’ impact during periods of complimentary parking, but the analysis found the benefits were restricted to a small number of retail categories.

Department stores and clothing, specialised and luxury goods, specialised food retailing, grocery and supermarkets, and travel experienced a positive financial impact over the three time periods included in the analysis by consultancy Geografica.