‘People complain about paid parking and we put more in’
A Whitsunday councillor has opposed the move to implement more paid parking in Airlie Beach as drivers are set to be charged at another car park from next month.
Paid parking is set to come into force at the car park next to the Whitsunday Sailing Club from March.
It’s currently free to park in the car park and there is a four-hour limit imposed.
The new fees will be aligned with those already being charged at other Airlie Beach car parks, including those at Coral Sea Marina, Port of Airlie and Airlie Beach Lagoon.
It will cost $3 from zero to two hours and charges will rise incrementally to $10 for 12 to 24 hours.
Division 6 councillor Mike Brunker was the only person to oppose the move during the council meeting on Wednesday, saying residents already had an issue with paid parking.
“We bring more paid parking into the place and we say we want more tourists there and (then) people leave with fines,” Cr Brunker said.
“People complain about the amount of paid parking down there and we put more in there.”
Council agenda documents state the installation of the paid parking system will enable the parking and infringement integrated management system project to be completed.
A new parking system was implemented in car parks across Airlie Beach in December last year but the council decided not to install it at the Whitsunday Sailing Club car park.
This is because of the potential negative impact it could have had during the Christmas holiday period.
The new system included new paid parking machines and the introduction of a pay-by-phone app called EasyPark.
Interestingly, Cr Brunker appeared to be in favour of paid parking in the spot a couple of years ago.
According to the council agenda documents, the decision to install pay and display parking machines in the Sailing Club car park was made in September 2018.
It was a motion that was moved by Cr Brunker and seconded by John Collins.
During this week’s meeting, Division 1 councillor Jan Clifford pushed for the parking time limit in the streets directly next to the car park to be increased.
The parking limit on Coconut Grove and Ocean Road will now be two hours, rather than one, and it will be free during that time.
Cr Brunker said the changed time limit would rely on the honesty of drivers and those who lost track of time could be hit with a fine.
But Mayor Andrew Willcox supported the change.
“It’s two hours for the family to have their play and enjoy the swings and the big playground that we have,” Cr Willcox said.
“And then they can move on and allow time for the next round to come in.
“It comes down to whether you’re a pessimist or an optimist.”
All councillors, except Cr Brunker, voted to implement the paid parking system and alter the time limit of street parking.