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Ample parking in Portage's downtown

By Brian Oliver, The Graphic

The results of an assessment of parking within the downtown core of Portage la Prairie suggests that although there are issues that need resolving, finding a decent parking spot isn't one of them.

Council members were presented with the findings of the 2016 study by a consultant at Monday night's council meeting as part of the city's downtown revitalization strategy. 

"The data indicates that during typical weekday business hours, the supply of municipal parking exceeds its demand," Ashley Kostyniuk, currently studying Master of City Planning at U of M, told council Monday evening. "Only on two occasions did parking exceed the practical 85 per cent occupancy rate."

The occupancy rate for public parking spots means that parking is functioning most effectively when 80 per cent of the parking supply is in use.

The biggest issues uncovered in the study are broken or dated meters, lack of signage and lack of enforcement. Survey respondents stated they would like to see updated meter infrastructure that accept phone or card payments. Presently, Portage la Prairie meters accept quarters, loonies and toonies while a handful still require nickels and dimes.

Respondents also stated they would like clear bylaw signage and consistent enforcement in terms of ticketing expired meters. During a sample period during the study, results indicated that 46 per cent of meter users were parked at a location with expired time. However, those numbers fail to indicate if the meter simply expired or if it never received a payment to begin with.

Canadian security company Commissionaires is currently tasked with enforcement duties in Portage la Prairie.

"The use of parking meters and how frequently they are paid versus unpaid was an interesting finding," notes deputy Mayor, Brent Budz. "There is ample parking for the demand and that’s not what we’re necessarily hearing all the time. We just received the report but again, administration and council will be looking at the takeaways."

Council was presented with several strategies to combat those parking problems in the downtown, including updated meters, bylaw signage, implementation of consistent enforcement, and the implementation of both a residential and employee paid parking permit.

The consultant stated that a priority should be on consistent enforcement so that people know what to expect in terms of parking and ticketing. The city of Portage signed a three-year contract with Commissionaires in early 2017, marking the end of a bylaw enforcement agreement with local company Orion Security.

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