BYRON BUSINESS INSIDER: Paul Waters Megan Kinniment

OPINION: Critical parking decision coming

IT'S difficult not to weigh into the paid parking debate that is currently causing much concern throughout the community, especially amongst business operators who could be adversely affected if we get it too wrong.

Firstly let me say that a few years ago I was vehemently opposed to the prospect of metered parking on our streets and am on record saying, "Not on my watch".

However, with our local infrastructure so badly neglected for so many years I now agree that paid parking fees are definitely one way of raising some extra funds.

But this will only slow the decline of our infrastructure if more substantial funds aren't forthcoming to reverse the trend.

I have it on good authority that positive news is not far away on this topic.

Some commentators would like blame our visitor industry for the degradation of roads and infrastructure when in reality it's the general lack of funding over many years that's to blame.

In fact its local tourism and business that have probably paid the lion's share of rates that have gone elsewhere.

One only needs to drive through Ocean Shores or other suburban streets around Byron Bay to see the evidence of this.

One aspect of the paid parking plan is to provide business owners and employees a parking area at Butler Street costing $80 per month per car.

This is just another big tax on businesses and cannot be supported, although a cut down version of this idea may be acceptable

Overall, a one size fits all approach is not the answer, a varied range of fees and charges across town according to the premium nature of the location needs to be considered.

Some all day low cost parking options must be also is provided to protect retail and commercial opportunities.

Residents should be encouraged to buy the parking voucher/sticker but again the $100 one-size-fits all approach needs to be revised so low income and disadvantaged residents can afford to participate.

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