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Aug. 4, 2020 | Tuesday
Local News
Town to negotiate parking lot charges with Parks Canada
Parks Canada hasn't been charging town for use of its parking lot since 2000. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

NOTL will start paying Parks Canada for use of its parking lots by tourist buses.

Parks Canada was initially looking to charge 50 per cent of gross revenues for the use of its parking lot in Fort George. The town staff negotiated that down to 25 per cent.

For the past 18 years, the town hasn’t been paying Parks Canada for using its parking lot at the fort. Tour buses drop visitors off there and then they are shuttled to downtown.

“(Parks Canada) were awesome to work with,” Sheldon Randall, the town’s director of operations, told council’s committee of the whole meeting Monday night. “This lot is very valuable to the town.”

“The time has come. There’s a big push from Parks Canada that they need to change the way they’re doing their business and this is the way they want to do business going forward.”

“Sounds like we owe them a big thank-you note,” said Coun. Clare Cameron in regards to Parks Canada allowing the town to use its lot for free in the past.

Lord Mayor Betty Disero made a motion to pay 10 to 15 per cent of gross revenues to Parks Canada instead of 25 per cent.

“It’s too, too, too coincidental for me that on the same year we double the price for buses to park in that parking lot, all of a sudden Parks Canada wants (some) percentage of gross which is even worse for us,” she said.

The town increased the bus parking fee from $25 to $50 this year. 

Disero acknowledged the staff’s efforts to negotiate the price down but said the lot brings added value to Parks Canada as it gets visitors to Fort George and into their gift shop.

“The $25 that we’ve added to the parking fee for buses, I guess (Parks Canada) decided they wanted it for themselves,” she said.

Randall argued saying it was difficult to make people go on tour around the fort.

“The big impact for tourism in the area is downtown,” he said. “Right now, Parks Canada’s perspective is that primarily having their buses really does support downtown than it does them.”

For a one-year contract, starting April 1, estimated gross revenue is $272,000. The estimated cost to operate the lot is $250,000 a year.

Parks Canada also owns 34 parking spaces at the former NOTL hospital site on Wellington Street. The estimated gross revenue for parking meters at the former hospital is $16,000. The town would receive 60 per cent of this gross or $9,600, and Parks Canada would have 40 per cent share of its gross revenues.

The committee approved Disero’s motion to reduce the fee for Fort George lot. Town staff will report back next council meeting on March 11.