A price increase of nearly 300% for monthly underground parking passes at Bayside Centre will drive away business, a downtown employee says.
“There are a lot of workers downtown who can’t afford it,” says Jessica Rawcliffe, a single mom who has worked downtown for a year.
Bayside currently charges $33.90 for a monthly parking pass in the 700-space parking lot beneath the mall.
A notice has gone out alerting customers the pass will increase to $100 plus $13 HST on Nov. 1.
“The people I work with are just outraged,” said Rawcliffe, who didn’t want to identify her employer. “We pay for parking ourselves and I know many people who say they’ll have to either go to a city parking lot or park on the street because their budget is tight and they can’t afford this kind of increase.
“We’ve been trying to support the mall but we’re being chased out the door.”
Rawcliffe said she realizes operating costs are escalating for Bayside Centre and she would expect gradual price increases to park there.
“But this is way too much at one time,” she said. “The employers who pay for their employees’ parking are going to be hit hard too.”
Bayside Centre is also rescinding its free, three-hour parking underground unless users get a validation stamp at one of the mall stores.
“Too many people are using the three hours and not spending time in the mall,” explained Marilyn Moddejonge, Bayside’s new general manager.
“If you get your parking ticket stamped, then the three hours are free.”
Parking at Bayside has been very inexpensive and the cost of upgrades caused the new owners to re-evaluate the price of underground parking, Moddejonge said.
“There are people who are very upset but there are also people who say it’s understandable,” she said.
Rawcliffe said she hopes the city designates one of its downtown parking lots for people who work in the core area and offers them discounts for daytime use.
“Otherwise, people who work down here and are trying to improve things for the downtown are saying they will park on the streets.
“And hasn’t the mayor said he doesn’t want downtown employees to park on the streets so that customers have a place to park?”
A monthly pass for daytime use of a city-owned parking lot is currently about $50, but fluctuates depending on location.
Ownership of Bayside Centre recently changed after a legal dispute this summer.
Currently a numbered company held by Malvinder Singh of Chilton Capital Inc. owns the mall, according to Moddejonge.
Singh could not be reached for comment.