Parking, planning top list at Bunbury community forum

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times

Bunbury’s contentious parking strategy was front and centre at last night’s CBD Planning Forum.

About 160 community and business members took part in the interactive session at Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre where people could ask questions and brainstorm ideas.

Hosted by Bunbury City Council, the event offered the opportunity to provide comment on the proposed Civic and Cultural Precinct and 12-month review into the city’s parking strategy as well as share ideas relating to CBD activation.

Concept designs for Bunbury's Civic and Cultural Precinct are revealed.
Camera IconConcept designs for Bunbury's Civic and Cultural Precinct are revealed.

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While impressive designs of the hotly-discussed precinct were unveiled for the first time, it was parking which gained the most attention.

Council officers revealed the effects of free parking following the one-year mark of sweeping parking changes in the CBD along with five options now being considered.

Paid parking was introduced in the city in 2010 in a bid to relieve parking woes and create churn.

A strong campaign by retailers to bring back free parking reached its pinnacle in June last year when following an emotional debate including several deputations from shop owners in a packed council chambers, free parking was voted back in.

One year on and council staff and Mayor Gary Brennan say the system is “not working”.

Results revealed by the council last night showed there had been no “noticeable increase” of vehicle activity, according to occupancy surveys and machine transactions.

Concept designs for Bunbury's Civic and Cultural Precinct are revealed.
Camera IconConcept designs for Bunbury's Civic and Cultural Precinct are revealed.

Further, the provision of two hours free on-street parking was not “financially viable”, increased time allowance in shopper carparks was not seeing any changes in vehicle activity and the council needed to continue to plan for the expansion of the CBD and how future parking demands would be met.

The five options now being considered by the council include reinstating its parking strategy, which would see $1 an hour on-street parking, two-hour free shopper car parking and all-day parking options.

Three modified strategies include “buy one hour, get one free” or first hour free, buy the second hour on-street options or two hours free with a ticket.

The final option is to remove all on-street parking machines and have free parking on the street and paid parking in all carparks.

The graphic below outlines the projected financials of each option.

The parking information was met with mixed reactions last night and prompted a passionate claim from CBD business owner Megan Gianfrancesco who asked the council if it was “kidding” about bringing fees back in.

The council has started an online engagement portal called Social Pinpoint where anyone can give their opinion on the parking strategy and options, along with input into the precinct and CBD activation.

Click here to go to the portal.

The online program will be open for comment until August 18 with a report due back to the council for a decision in September.

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