Paid parking will go ahead in Byron Bay

A PAY parking scheme for Byron Bay town centre has gotten the go ahead, aiming to improve car parking turnover and finances for Byron Shire Council infrastructure programs.

The move was approved at last week's council meeting, with the scheme to be set at $4 per hour for on-street parking and in Council owned car parks.

The scheme will also see the existing off-street parking residents' $25 per year coupon increased to $100 per year.

The exemption will apply to all off and on-street locations within the pay parking area and includes a limited on-street area west of the rail corridor and most on-street locations east through to Tennyson Street. 

The pay parking area will cover over 1,500 car spaces within the Byron Bay town centre.

Mayor Simon Richardson said the pay parking scheme has a two significant benefits for Council and the community.

"Firstly we can expect to see an improved usage of car parking spaces in the town centre which will make it easier for us to find a park," Cr Richardson said.

"Plus, there are substantial financial gains with a potential $2 million each year that can be used to pay for the impacts of tourism and to provide better amenities for us.

"Pay parking is now the norm in areas that have high visitations and for Byron Bay, these are funds that our community needs.

"From March 2015 tourism statistics, we know our area has over 900,000 day trippers each year with a total of 1.5 million visitors.

"Whilst the solid tourism figures are good for our local economy, we also have significant impacts on our infrastructure from visitors and unfortunately Council cannot introduce a bed tax, or an e-tag toll.

"Charging for parking is one way we can get a return back to Council.  It's a way we can generate funds for improved infrastructure.

"Plus from the parking study conducted, changes in parking behaviour are expected that will lead to greater parking turnover and better utilisation of existing supply.

"Improved parking turnover will save Council investing limited funds into building more car parks.

"Whilst pay parking will not be popular with some, the decision has been about finding a balance to support our roads, drainage and parks.

"Residents will review their parking habit and weigh up whether they are prepared to pay $100 a year - $2 a week- for the parking permit, or pay as they go on-street.  It will come down to a personal decision."

Mayor Richardson also pointed out that the current state government local government review was adamant that councils needed to find new ways to generate income and become 'Fit for the Future'.

"If Councils cannot demonstrate how they will become financially sustainable, then they run the very real risk of being amalgamated," he said.

"The pay parking scheme is a key cornerstone to help show how we are working towards improved finances and improved infrastructure." 

It is estimated that the pay parking setup costs in the first year will be about $1.5 million, Cr Richardson said.  

The major cost is associated with $1.2 million for the machines and data/network infrastructure. 

An additional $300,000 has been allowed for changes to parking signage, line marking, modifications to kerbs and blisters and additional paving or upgrades.

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