BYRON Council is looking at making an annual $2 million profit by extending paid parking at Byron Bay, but it also hopes the move will lead to improved traffic flow in the town.
The council last week voted to push ahead with detailed planning for the paid parking extension at Byron Bay and to look at paid parking for Bangalow and Brunswick Heads as part of traffic management schemes.
But it decided to defer any consideration of on-street paid parking at Mullumbimby until 12 months after the opening of the Woolworths supermarket now being built, to assess its impact on parking elsewhere in the town.
Council staff have recommended paid parking at Byron Bay be initially extended to the Main Beach precinct north of Lawson Street, with the second stage to extend into the CBD and along Lawson Street to Massinger Street.
As part of its review of paid parking, the council is also pushing ahead with its plan to charge locals $25 for the resident parking stickers, which have been free up until now.
The stickers, which will be free for pensioners, allow residents to park in council car parks for free, where drivers without stickers have to pay $2 an hour. From July 1, that rate will go up to $3 an hour.
While Cr Ross Tucker expressed concerns about the lack of consultation on the issue, Cr Simon Richardson said the proposal meant all of Byron Bay eventually would be subject to paid parking.
Cr Richardson said he didn’t think he had been to any other comparable-sized town where such a scheme was operating.
He said putting paid parking "in every street in Byron is a farce" and suggested the council "take a breath" and wait six months and investigate other ways of raising revenue from tourists.
Cr Basil Cameron said he had no problems with the principle of extending paid parking.
Cr Cameron said while some were looking at it as a source of revenue, he saw the main reason for pushing ahead with it was a way of dealing with traffic congestion.
However, he warned more paid parking could see tourists move into residential streets to take advantage of free parking and avoid paying.
Cr Cameron said there was a risk the council could make things worse for residents unless other parking arrangements were made.
Cr Cameron said he wanted to see paid parking as a tool that the council could use to manage the Byron Bay town centre as well as raising revenue.
Deputy mayor Cr Patrick Morrisey said extending paid parking was a way of getting a "tax" from tourists when there was no other way of doing so.
He said a $25 charge for a resident parking sticker was not going to be a great impost.
A report to the council said it would cost $1.8m to buy and install parking meters in Byron Bay, which would be covered by a 10-year loan.
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