ANTIGONISH: Councillors in the Town of Antigonish have passed a new parking meter by-law, which will see their meter violation rate double from $10 to $20.

Following a public hearing on Aug. 18, senior staff gave second reading and passed their updated parking by-law.

Jeff Lawrence, the town’s chief administrative officer (CAO) told The Reporter raising the violation rate will align Antigonish with other municipalities across Nova Scotia.

“Of all of the town’s that have parking meters, we’re still lower than most,” Lawrence said. “A bigger incentive is that we have a number of businesses in town that rely on parking turnover.”

The town really wanted to encourage parking turnover for their local businesses.

“If vehicles are parked for an extended period of time in front of their business stops someone else from coming in,” Lawrence said. “We felt the $10, which it had been for an extended period of time, just didn’t really offer enough motivation.”

He advised per the new by-law, the current meter prices remain the same, with 25-cents getting an individual 15 minutes, up to a two hour maximum, while it also sets out a few exclusions.

“So if you have a veteran’s plate, if you have a disability tag, or if you’re a contractor who’s checked in with the town, that’s doing some work, then you wouldn’t have to worry about putting money into the meter,” Lawrence said. “You’d be exempt.”

If an individual doesn’t pay their fine within the first 21 days, then it automatically moves over to the provincial summary offence ticket, which is $56.50.

Senior staff in Antigonish wanted to have their new by-lay in place before September, when StFX University implements their new phase of paid parking on campus, resulting in an increase in the demand of downtown parking.

“I see it now when you come down West Street to Main Street. At about 8 in the morning, you see people parking in Chisholm Park and walking up to the university,” Lawrence said. “Now that there is a cost to park at the university, we expect that there will be more of that.”

The parking meter rate increase, he said, is only one of a number of items the town is looking at to help resolve this issue, the others include additional signage and timed parking even where it’s free, specifically in the Chisholm Park parking area.

The CAO suggested the town has had money in their budget for the last two years to undertake a complete parking review of their downtown parking to make sure it’s adequate.

“The problem is, COVID hit two years ago,” Lawrence said. “And if you did a study before things return to normal, it wouldn’t give you a true understanding of parking efficiencies.”

The hope is, he said, with StFX implementing paid parking, with the town’s changes they’re making, that this fall they’re able to do the parking study to better understand if additional parking is required.”

Councillor Diane Roberts was the sole vote against the parking meter by-law.