Patrons of the Parkdale Public Library will soon pay to park there.
The Toronto Public Library Board is launching a paid parking pilot project at its Parkdale branch and also at its Fairview branch when it reopens later this year following a renovation.
“The Library Board is interested in increasing revenues to help the city with its financial situation,” explained City Librarian Jane Pyper. “In 2012 the (Library) budget from the city went down, so in part (the paid parking pilot project) was to help address that.”
During the review of the Library’s 2012 operating budget, the Board considered a number of potential sources of revenue generation, which would provide budget relief. One of the potential sources was to introduce paid parking at library lots where feasible.
At its monthly meeting on Jan. 21, the Board voted to implement pilot projects for paid parking at its Parkdale and Fairview branches.
Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) has done an assessment of the potential for paid parking taking into consideration location of the site, surrounding land use, availability of free parking in the area on residential roads, malls and plazas, presence of private parking competitors and the number of parking spaces at the lot.
Only seven library lots are zoned to allow commercial parking and, according to Pyper, library lots with fewer than 10 spaces were not considered for the program.
According to the staff report the TPA assessed that three lots are potentially viable - Parkdale, Fairview and Locke Library at Yonge Street And Lawrence Avenue West.
The parking lot in Parkdale is fairly small, only 12 spots, but given that the parking lot is located right on Queen Street West it was determined that it could be viable to charge for parking there.
Work will begin preparing to implement paid parking immediately, however it isn’t clear yet when paid parking will take effect. Pyper said the Parkdale lot has to have a ‘Pay and Display’ machine installed and it has to be assessed by TPA for repainting or resurfacing. TPA may also consider re-orienting the entrance to the parking lot as it is not currently accessible off Queen Street West, but is instead accessed off the Milky Way alley.
When the paid parking takes effect, Pyper said staff would have to pay for parking the same as the public.
“We do need access to the branch for deliveries so there would probably be one spot reserved for delivery vehicles,” Pyper said.
In the staff report on paid parking at library lots, Fairview was identified as a potentially viable lot, although it was not initially recommended for the pilot project as its projected reopening date is not until this fall.
“It was not initially identified as a potential for the pilot and it was added during board discussions,” Pyper said. “It was identified during board discussions largely because of the size of the lot.”
Fairview has 108 parking spots, so considerably larger than Parkdale, however the lot is adjacent to the Fairview Mall, where parking is free.
“The timing for the introduction of the paid parking pilot at the Fairview branch is unknown at this time,” Pyper said. “As the lot may require some rehabilitation as a result of the construction staging and there will be necessary installations by the Toronto Parking Authority before paid parking can be introduced, we do not have a timetable established at this point.”
The parking lots at New Toronto, Long Branch, Jane/Dundas and Mount Dennis are zoned to permit paid parking, but were deemed to not be financially viable.
“There are actually not very many candidates identified by TPA,” Pyper said of the Library’s roster of parking lots.
TPA will pay for the initial capital costs and deduct an annual amortization amount from gross revenues each year.
The estimated net revenue at Parkdale is $8,000 a year. Because TPA does not operate a parking facility in the Fairview area, they are unable to provide a net revenue estimate.
Money earned through paid parking will be treated as general revenues for the library included as part of the general operating revenues.
Another revenue generator the library is looking at is introducing the ability to buy books through the library’s website with a ‘buy a book’ link.
A survey of customers done in advance of the pilot project showed 60 per cent were not in favour of paid parking at city libraries, 38 per cent said it was acceptable while the remaining two percent said they were unsure.
Pyper said she doesn’t expect paid parking will effect library-goers in Parkdale because of the location of the library, its proximity to public transit and because Parkdale is easily accessed by walking and biking.
“It will be more a challenge in parts of the city that are not in areas that are not as easily accessed by walking, biking and transit,” Pyper said.
However, the impact on customers is one of the elements of paid parking that will be assessed through this pilot project. It will also look at feedback from residents, the area councillor and revenue generated.
“If the pilot locations are successful, the results, both on the public feedback and the revenue realized, will be reported to the Board to determine whether additional locations will be identified for paid parking,” Pyper said.