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Parking fees coming soon to Marina Park

Council made a few changes to the Parking Authority’s Financial Plan with some exceptions to fees at Marina Park and Market Square as well as holding onto the Crooks parking lot.
Market Square Parking Lot
Archived photo of the Market Square parking lot at Prince Arthur's Landing. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY -- The City of Thunder Bay is working towards instituting new paid parking at Marina Park - including Market Square - as of June 1.

Council endorsed the parking authority’s financial plan with a few exceptions, which included saving the Crooks parking lot from a suggestion to close four underutilized lots, namely Camelot, Machar, Viscount and Nesco, on or before June 1.

“We wanted the city to maintain ownership of the Crooks parking lot, the one behind the Ruttan building, because we do believe that the use of that will be impacted by the rejuvenation of the North Core,” said Kara Pratt, executive director of the Waterfront District BIA.

Current River Coun. Andrew Foulds put forward that change as well as an idea to phase in an increase in monthly parking passes for parkades in the city over two years.

“If you look at the total price, it's not out of line with what other municipalities pay, but it was a huge increase,” Foulds said.

“And that would have been another huge expense for the small businesses in the downtown that are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I thought it was reasonable to phase in some of those costs to give those businesses some more time to make those adjustments, and perhaps gain more revenue as we get more runway from the pandemic.”

The price was set to jump from $61.88 to $90.

Pratt was also pleased to see that change.

“We're happy that there was some movement there and they are going to do a reassessment in a two-year period. This way they can actually see if the usage decreases, so it's good that they are listening. We are happy that the big things that we did ask for were considered and put forward hold off on big changes," Pratt said.

Red River Ward Coun. Michael Zussino brought forward his own amendment that received unanimous support - to make the cost of parking at Marina Park $2 per hour as opposed to $3.

“I think the price is reasonable if you're charging $2 everywhere else all over the place,” remarked Zussino following the meeting on Monday.

“I don't want to see the cost prohibitive to go to restaurants, otherwise you're inhibiting some of the businesses that are down there and charging a little bit of a premium for that.”

McKellar Ward Coun. Brian Hamilton attempted to remove Market Square from that motion and make it $3 per hour to park as of June.

That measure won by a 6-3 margin.

“I’m a huge park and recreation supporter, but I struggled with voting to charge for parking down there,” Foulds admitted.

“But that's confounded with the issue that many people were using that free parking all day and sort of jamming up those parking spaces which wasn't okay either. So, we had to try and find some solutions that are reasonable and manageable.

“I think there are going to be a lot of people that are unhappy with this move, and I don't blame them. However, I also think that at the end of the day, most waterfronts in cities do charge for premium parking.”

Staff noted that the rates would be subject to a 25 cent increase every two years.

All of the updates that were made Monday night will be adjusted to the financial figures that will be presented to council during 2024 budget deliberations, which begin with the long-term outlook on Jan. 23.

An informal question and answer session will happen at the Victoria Inn on Jan. 25.

Council will review the budget on Jan. 30, Feb. 1, Feb. 5 and Feb. 7

The budget is scheduled to be ratified on Monday, Feb. 12.


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