Monday, March 20, 2023

City to charge for parking at Enmax Centre starting in September

Users of the Enmax Centre will soon have to pay for parking after a city council decision on April 26.

Council voted to implement a per-vehicle charge starting in September, adjusting for the reduction of $57,120 annually, which comes from the Hurricanes’ waiver of revenue sharing in lieu of season ticket holders not being charged for parking at hockey games. 

The city will also look at potential sponsorship programs to reduce or eliminate parking costs by partnering with businesses and offering advertising opportunities to offset parking costs for Enmax users.

Mayor Blaine Hyggen was strongly opposed to the change. “I am not going an hour and a half earlier and we are going to put through 5000 people on a few machines. It just won’t work,” he said. “If we go this route, we are just throwing away dollars.”

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The parking system will work the same as downtown Lethbridge, according to Mike Fox, director of community services, so users can use the city’s app to pay for parking. He said the city will ensure enough kiosks are set up to accommodate the volume of traffic.

Lethbridge College students will also have to pay to park at Enmax Centre after September 1, 2022. “Students already have to pay for parking on the LC campus (and at the University of Lethbridge). The fee structure will be similar to campus in providing a daily, weekly, monthly, and semester rates. These rates will be identified in the near future,” reads a news release from the city.

“Those students who can’t afford parking would have the opportunity to use Lethbridge Transit, which is a more affordable option.”

Kim Gallucci, Enmax Centre General Manager, said the lot has 1,610 stalls, with 40 set aside for the Hurricanes hockey team — about 1,325 spots will be paid parking.

“We believe we would be able to generate somewhere around $400,000–425,000 with costs around the $50,000–80,000 mark, depending on how many events and the variables of different events,” he said.

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Coun. Rajko Dodic commented that if the city does not have the ability to reduce operating costs, this move is necessary to prevent an increase in taxes to make up for costs.

“I do believe that it is incumbent on us to continue with the plan that was in place because if we don’t go forward with the operating model that has been presented, we are going to be faced with quite a deficit in our budget,” said Coun. Jeff Carlson.

The motion to implement paid parking and investigate sponsorship opportunities carried 5-4, with Hyggen, Coun. Middleton-Hope, Coun. Nick Paladino and Coun. Ryan Parker opposed.

“If people don’t want to pay for parking at Enmax, we have a transit system — you can ride that and then you don’t have to pay for parking,” said Coun. Belinda Crowson. “Well I would love to save people every bit of money we can, sometimes a small charge — the long-term impact saves all of us as a community.”

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