Marlborough District Council is watching a free parking pilot in Nelson's central business district with interest, but a similar scheme in Blenheim would come at a cost to the ratepayer, a councillor says.
Laressa Shenfield, who carries the council's parking portfolio, said a council discussion paper on parking would look at the cost of parking in busy shopping areas.
Nelson City Council is planning to trial three months' free parking in the CBD during the winter months. The free parking would be capped to three hours.
The move is seen as an incentive for shoppers to shop in the city centre.
Shenfield said council would look at the Nelson model closely.
"The mayor is looking at this plan with interest to see how it works," Shenfield said.
"It definitely gives food for thought.
"Nelson are taking a big punt. They have had a lot of development at Richmond which has free parking at the new K-Mart development. As a result, there has been a lot of stress on CBD retailers in Nelson.
"Every region has its very different challenges.
"While Nelson have free parking, they still have to monitor the three-hour limit and pay for enforcement.
"The loss of revenue is up to $285,000 and that has to be picked up by the ratepayer."
Shenfield said a Marlborough District Council discussion paper on parking would be released on July 15.
Upgrades to the parking system in Blenheim and Picton were under consideration, including pay-as-you-go parking.
Shenfield said if Blenheim got free parking, it still needed to be funded.
"There is a cost of enforcement for our parking bylaws. If you do free parking there is a loss of revenue."
"The other aspect is, if we got free parking, people working in the CBD would park in front of retail outlets. Is that what retailers really want?"
- The Marlborough Express
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