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Free parking may return to London’s core area business districts


Just weeks after a COVID-era parking promotion ended, a pared-down free parking program may soon launch in its place.

A staff report to council’s Community and Protective Services (CAPS) Committee recommends offering one hour of free parking via the Honk Mobile App for on-street spots in Downtown London, Richmond Row, and Midtown until the end of this year.

It would cost city hall an estimated $300,000 in mobile app fees and lost revenue.

Similarly, it recommends one hour of free on-street parking plus an hour in Municipal Lot #1 and Municipal Lot #2 in the Old East Village (north of Dundas Street) until Dec. 31 at an additional $30,000 cost.

“It’s time that we start working collaboratively with the city,” said Kevin Morrison of the Old East Village BIA. “This is an investment in our economic development and I think that’s what’s really, really important.”

Since 2021, typing the ‘CORE’ promo code into the Honk Mobile App provided up to two hours of free parking in the core area business districts.

Funding ran out for the pandemic economic recovery program at the end of March.

At ‘Wes the Barber’ in the Old East Village, council’s decision to discontinue the parking incentive, combined with a parking rate increase, has been a one-two punch to clients’ wallets.

“Probably 75 per cent of the clients that end up in my chair used the free parking,” explained Wes Heney. “They’ve walked in asking why doesn’t the code work anymore. It adds an expense on top of the cost of the service they’re already coming in for.”

“We support trying to help those businesses remain in business, but we need to have a long-term plan,” said Mary Ann Hodge of Climate Action London.

Hodge believes as the city grows, the upcoming Mobility Master Plan needs to include alternative ways to get customers to the core business districts that don’t require parking for cars.

“We need to have a long-term plan. We don’t want to keep making these short-term, stop-gap decisions when we should be doing some long-term planning,” she added.

Although the staff report recommends the one-hour free parking incentive conclude at the end of this year, the OEV BIA would like to see that period of time act as a pilot project for a longer-term parking incentive.

“What I would like to see is that the City of London and the economic development department take a look at what other municipalities are doing,” Morrison explained. “I think they’ll be quite surprised at how many do offer great parking incentives and really doesn’t cost that much.”

Heney is even more blunt, “Sure, let’s do a pilot [project], but I don’t think we need a pilot to learn that what they were doing [until March 31] was already working.”

Funding for the free parking promotion would come from an economic development reserve fund.

The CAPS committee will consider the report on Monday. Top Stories

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