Grateful Fed owner Kamel Abougoush doesn't think an increase in parking fees will have an impact on
people shopping in the downtown core.
Kelowna city council agreed to raise parking rates at all city-owned parking stalls, likely to be effective
On-street parking downtown will go from 50 cents an hour to $1.25.
Rates at other city-owned parking locations will also increase.
It is the first time in 20 years the on-street rates will have been increased, the city says.
Council heard under current pricing, the city's parking reserve fund will soon be depleted and the cost of maintaining the parking system is outpacing the revenue, so the increase is needed.
The increase will not only cover the cost of maintaining the parking system, but will also encourage people to use the transit system rather than pay for parking.
"I am a firm believer parking should cost more than transit," said Coun. Colin Basran.
Coun. Maxine deHart said she spent some time talking to merchants in various parts of the city and all of them agreed the increase is timely and needed.
"I know it's tough for the public to pay more. If you look at the percentage it's big, but if you look at the dollar amount it isn't," she said.
The additional revenue will also be used to purchase new, high-tech meters that can accept payment in a variety of ways including debit and credit cards.
Kamel Abougoush, owner of The Grateful Fed, said he doubts the increase will keep people out of the city centre.
Abougoush said people will pay $3 for a 50-cent bottle of water, so the slight increase may cause some grumbling, but will likely be taken in stride.
"The price of parking isn't what keeps people out of downtown," he said, adding there needs to be more events and activities downtown to draw the public to what was historically the hub of entertainment.
Abougoush pointed out downtown parking in other centres, like Vancouver, is a lot more expensive.
Gift for Him manager Hayley Harrison agrees.
"If the lack of parking hasn't already made a difference, I don't think it going up will," she said. "It's still cheaper than Vancouver."
Kathy Pachal of Natural Rezources fears there may be some negative impact on customers.
"It would probably have an effect," she said. "I know it is reasonable compared to a lot of places, but we get a lot of people commenting on it now."
Mayor Walter Gray was quick to point out the increase is not a cash grab.
"That's certainly not what it's about," he said. "If you park your car downtown, you will have to pay your own way. Some taxpayers can't even afford a car, so why should they have to pay for your parking?
"Those who use the parking will pay for it. It is not a cash grab. It is parking management."
Gray also encouraged people to ride the bus, walk or cycle to the downtown core.
Parking rates are also going up at Kelowna airport.