The chance to have your say on the potential introduction of paid parking in the Port Macquarie CBD is coming to a close.
The Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's Draft Parking Policy and Draft Parking Management Plan 2023 public exhibition period closes on Friday, March 31.
The draft parking management plan considers the current parking situation, forecasts future demand, describes future transport and technology trends, and outlines key policy objectives to inform a proposed parking implementation plan for the region.
One of the parking management strategies to help reduce congestion is the potential to introduce paid parking in the CBD.
The document states that where 85 per cent occupancy is achieved and maintained, there will typically be convenient and accessible parking spaces available for newly arriving vehicles. When occupancy levels are regularly exceeding 85 per cent it becomes increasingly difficult to find a park and other issues such as congestion begin to emerge.
To date, council has used time limits and select increases to parking supply on the centre fringe areas to manage parking demands.
At the time the study and draft parking management plan were released, Mayor Peta Pinson said it was time for mature conversations around parking.
"I want people to not be apathetic and to let us know what they think when it comes to parking," she said.
Within the identified "core area" of the CBD, several streets already have one hour or less parking limits and parking is often at capacity.
The document states, "the selective use of paid parking needs to be considered as part of our suite of parking management tools".
However, one of the main objections to paid parking comes from local businesses, which fear that paid parking may drive away customers.
What the Frock Designs retail assistants Jenna Grez and Kelly Fletcher said they believe people won't want to pay for parking.
"I think that it would impact the number of people visiting shops," Ms Fletcher said.
"You wouldn't be able to just park on the street and go and browse."
What the Frock Designs has recently relocated to Horton St.
Ms Grez said introducing paid parking would "ruin the vibe of Port Macquarie".
"It would turn it into Sydney and that's just not the feel of Port Macquarie," she said.
"We're more relaxed here and it would just turn it into another busy city."
Owner of Rainbows Edge on Clarence St Kellie Neal said a better alternative would be looking at options for a bigger carpark space for the CBD.
"I don't think people would be happy with having to pay for parking," she said.
"I think if [council] were able to have a carpark for all of the businesses that would free up carparks, because a lot of car spaces are taken up by people working in the CBD."
In the draft parking management plan, it states that evidence suggests that customers making moderate to high retail expenditure trips are relatively insensitive to the introduction of paid parking.
It also shows that based on council's existing parking sensor data within the core Port Macquarie Town Centre people stayed an average of 29 minutes on weekdays and 45 minutes on weekends.
The plan goes on to say that if paid parking was to be introduced into selected areas, a benefit would be using the revenue funds on projects such as parking infrastructure and new parking management systems that improve the parking experience, sustainable transport initiatives such as Park and Ride facilities supported by public transport, shuttle bus services or infrastructure for walking and cycling and streetscape and public realm upgrades.
A parking pricing and investment policy would also be developed to inform and guide council's approach to parking pricing and investment dependent on the adoption of paid parking.
The Draft Parking Policy and Draft Parking Management Plan 2023 community feedback will close on March 31. To have your say, visit council's website here.
IN OTHER NEWS: