Free overnight parking returning for summer
The sun may rise again on overnight street parking in London during the summer.
In a move some politicians say will leave Londoners starry-eyed, councillors Monday revived the issue -- scrapped during 2010 budget talks -- and recommended lifting the city's overnight parking ban again this summer.
"This is one of those (issues) that I say is a no-brainer," said Coun. Roger Caranci, who chairs council's environment and transportation committee, which passed the motion.
The city offered a pilot project last summer that lifted the parking ban, from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. It cost about $140,000 in lost revenue but was well received, politicians say.
But, when coupled with two other free-parking initiatives in the 2010 budget, council voted not to continue the summertime offering this year.
With a political sleight-of-hand, though, the issue is back on the table.
Coun. Judy Bryant was praised by colleagues for bringing it back up, but her call to look into offering paid passes during the summer was considered too complex.
Instead, some ETC members wanted to again offer the parking for free -- but because it had previously been defeated, they would first need council to vote to give the issue "re-consideration."
But Monday night's motion simply tweaked the dates -- moving the start from Victoria Day weekend to the Monday before it, and the end from Labour Day to the Tuesday after it -- to avoid that step.
"It'll be a whole new policy," Caranci said.
Committee member Bud Polhill predicts the move will pass before full city council next week, considering the negative feedback he says many politicians received after scrapping the idea during budget talks.
Coun. Cheryl Miller, long outspoken in her efforts to have the overnight restriction lifted during the summer, offered a familiar argument, noting the plan could cut down on impaired driving.
Not everyone, however, is over the moon.
Coun. Nancy Branscombe, whose Ward 6 includes the University of Western Ontario, said while she's all for helping people to park on streets more often, a "one-size-fits-all" plan won't work there.
"In my area we (already) have parking issues all the time," she said, noting she was prepared to support Bryant's original suggestion, to sell permits.
Branscombe also took umbrage with Miller, accusing the veteran politician of insulting, in a radio interview, those councillors who voted against overnight street parking in the budget.
"I don't appreciate being called a 'blockhead' on the air," Branscombe said.
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