Toowoomba Council will implement smart parking in the city’s CBD, using a mix of free and paid parking to manage the turnover of parking spaces and increase accessibility.
As part of the change, Toowoomba Regional Council’s Infrastructure Committee Portfolio Lead, Cr Melissa Taylor, said free parking for the first 30 minutes would be introduced, if the Committee recommendation was endorsed at an Ordinary Meeting of Council.
“Parking in the CBD has been a hot topic for many years now. As a way of addressing this, Council is committed to proposals within the Toowoomba City Centre Car Parking Strategy,” Cr Taylor said.
“We’re no longer a small country town where you will always get a park in front of the shop you want to visit.
“We have a growing population which has experienced a number of changes over the past few years, including the redevelopment of Grand Central Shopping Centre.
“As such, we need to ensure our strategy meets the needs of our population, both today, and into the future.
“A key element in this strategy will be delivering smart parking technology to provide an improved experience for customers, with greater accessibility to parking. We also need to make best use of and more efficiently manage our existing parking assets.
“As a way of doing this, we initially changed to one-hour free parking in Ruthven and Margaret Streets in the CBD. The feedback to date has been positive on how this has improved the regular turnover of parking spaces which has benefited surrounding businesses, customers and visitors.”
Cr Taylor said the next step is the conversion from free to paid parking which will enable high-demand parking locations within the City Centre to be managed more efficiently through pricing.
“This will create further turnover of parking spaces, which in turn improves the viability of businesses. This will address concerns we’ve heard from our business community,” Cr Taylor said.
“It’s important we get the balance right in supporting our motorists wanting to park in the CBD and providing more opportunities for customers to frequent businesses.
“Paid parking is just one element of the strategy and complements the Carnival Lane and Kwong Sang Walk pedestrian thoroughfares which provide greater access throughout the CBD.
“Over the next one to two years, Council plans to introduce contemporary car parking management practices that will greatly enhance the management of parking operations across the CBD and, in time, give customers access to smart parking tools to more conveniently locate and pay for their parking.
“Ultimately, it is intended that motorists will be able to take advantage of real-time digital parking signs identifying available parking spaces, as well as multiple payment options.
“Council also continues to explore active transport options that help reduce car trips in and around the city centre.”
At the Committee meeting on 9 November, the recommendation was for the conversion of existing on-street free parking locations to paid parking within the Toowoomba City Centre, with an initial 30 minutes of free parking included.
As part of the Budget process, Council will also consider the prioritisation of initiatives from the revenue received from Toowoomba CBD On-Street Carparking to support the attractiveness of the Toowoomba CBD.