Nanaimo will implement its new in-house downtown parking enforcement regime early in the new year, but the city will contract out additional services before hiring new staff.
On Monday, council supported a recommendation from staff that the city put out a request for proposal to select a firm capable of providing and maintaining off-street parking equipment like hand-held devices for bylaw enforcement officers.
The services would also include parking meter supply and maintenance, snow and ice removal, parkade maintenance, graffiti removal and coin collection.
Councillors Bill McKay, Jim Kipp and Bill Bestwick voted against the recommendation.
The city is seeking a five-year contract, with an option to renew the contract each year for a further five years. The cost over the life of the agreement could exceed $250,000, according to the report to council. The request for proposal process is expected to begin in November and continue over the next several weeks into December.
Churchill said completion of the RFP will be “the main impediment” to having the city take over downtown parking management, which is currently being run on a month-by-month basis by Robbins Parking.
He said the city is holding off hiring three new bylaw officers until the municipality secures the necessary off-street parking equipment and related services first. Meanwhile, the hiring process is already underway to find a parking manager.
In a surprise move, the city announced in May that it would bring in its own parking enforcement system and phase out its longtime partnership with Robbins Parking, which previously ran the service on contract.
The move was widely welcomed by downtown merchants, and the city said running the system with its own employees will lead to a more lenient approach when it comes to writing parking tickets, as well as a more integrated city staff presence on the streets.
Churchill said the new city bylaw officers will be a direct link to city hall, and will be able to manage parking in the downtown and Old City Quarter as well as monitor for other areas of concern to the city and citizens.
“You’ve really got instant communication within the organization,” he said.
He predicted the softer approach to ticketing will see the city collect less revenue, but he said the new model would bear cost savings over time. He predicted the new approach would provide drivers with a better downtown parking experience.
“That has value too,” he said.
In a parallel process, staff are also preparing a new bylaw dispute resolution system designed to reduce parking ticket backlogs and cut own on court appearances. The details are still being ironed out, but Churchill said staff will be presenting councillors with a report on November 19, 2012.