THE Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce agrees that parking in Brunswick Heads can be easily improved but is strongly against the introduction of paid parking.
Contrary to suggestions in the paper last week, paid parking in Brunswick Heads is neither inevitable, nor of benefit to our village.
There are better ways to fix our parking issues that won't destroy our fragile economy or result in job losses for locals.
The chamber's position in the past has been to reduce some of the existing parking time-limits around Brunswick Heads and increase the turnover of spaces. Specific suggestions include more one-hour zones, 15-minute 'hot spot zones' (such as outside the bank), a drop-off area at Torakina beach, additional loading zones, better located disabled access parking, dedicated motorbike parking and the creation of more parking spaces.
The importance of this issue for Brunswick Heads cannot be underestimated.
We have all worked hard over the past 15 years to revitalise our economy, create jobs and nurture our Simple Pleasures ethos. We do not want to see this destroyed by the introduction of paid parking.
The chamber is surprised by the lack of consultation to date. We pride ourselves on working together with council and other stakeholders on community projects and to resolve any issues that arise in the village.
We don't understand why we have been kept in the dark about paid parking.
The chamber was not informed that such an important issue was to be discussed at a council ordinary meeting on August 24.
Therefore, no-one was present to represent Brunswick Heads.
In contrast, the Mullumbimby Chamber of Commerce has a voice, as two councillors are associated with their chamber.
The meeting was presented with exactly the same recommendations for both Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads - to consult with the community on a possible implementation of a revised parking layout and a pay parking scheme.
However, the final resolutions were different. The possible pay parking scheme was dropped for Mullumbimby but not for Brunswick Heads.
The chamber does not agree that there would be significant benefits to the village.
Many locals are not impressed with the 'sweetener' offer of revenue raised being allocated directly to Brunswick Heads-based projects.
Brunswick's income from outdoor dining fees is not quarantined for Brunswick projects, so there isn't a lot of confidence that any paid parking revenue would be either.
If revenue raising is indeed the main objective, our previous offers to help brainstorm strategies to boost council's coffers are still on the table.
The chamber looks forward to meeting with council soon to discuss its concerns and alternative ideas.
The chamber's views, bar minor details, are aligned with the 2016 Brunswick Heads Town Centre and Beachside Parking Management Strategy recommendations - to reduce the time limits and increase enforcement and monitor the impact of this.
The Parking Strategy, completed just over one year ago, does NOT recommend the introduction of paid parking for Brunswick Heads.
Contrary to the statement in the council's introduction to the online paid parking survey, the Parking Strategy recommends that paid parking be considered for Brunswick Heads ONLY IF changes to time limits and enforcement are unsuccessful.
Brunswick Heads is busy most weekends and holidays and, at these times, parking can be hard to find, however paid parking will not solve this.
Our village is often quiet during the week and adding a $4 an hour parking fee to the cost of a relaxing cup of coffee, photocopy or haircut will certainly not help our local businesses.
We also have no desire to turn away the visitors who share our Simple Pleasures values.
If we can solve the parking pressures by reducing the parking time limits, why take the risk of introducing paid parking?
The chamber says yes to more appropriate timed parking and enforcement, but no to council's desire to introduce paid parking anywhere in the village of Brunswick Heads.
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