An hour's free on-street parking in the New Plymouth CBD will be considered by district councillors as a winter boost for retailers and hospitality.
The New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) has sought community views on its coronavirus response plans, which include $7.5 million to expand its green home insulation scheme, $1.3m to slash fees for local businesses for 12 months, $450,000 to boost grassroots community funding in the next financial year, $50,000 to help enhance main street buildings and a policy favouring local contractors and suppliers for NPDC works.
In a report to councillors, officers recommended adopting the plans with minor changes to the insulation scheme.
Staff also recommended councillors consider whether to also include one hour's free parking in the $2 an hour, on-street metered spaces from July 1 until September 30, based on the public feedback.
The estimated drop in council income would be $410,000, but it was difficult to know how this change would affect enforcement revenue such as parking tickets, the report to councillors said.
Another option would be 30 minutes of free parking, which would cost $360,000.
"This proposal has been sought previously by CBD retailers, and is relatively easy to implement (and rollback) compared to other potential options," the report said.
"CBD retailers and shoppers are likely to perceive this as a boost signalling confidence in a return to the CBD following the removal of social distancing requirements."
The council previously trialled 12 months of free parking on Saturdays until June 2017, which saw parking space occupancy increase 60 per cent on some Saturdays - 20 per cent more than the usual trend.
Returning paid parking on Saturdays put about $310,000 back in the council kitty over the next year, which was put back into the CBD.
The community broadly indicated support for the coronavirus response packages.
The most support was for the further emphasis on buying local in the council's procurement (98 per cent in favour), and the least-supported was the main streets package (73 per cent in favour).
In total, 938 survey responses were received, 159 people were involved in public webinars, and there were 40 targeted stakeholder online sessions.
The report also notes the council has already signed off on a number of response initiatives, including rates relief, rent relief for community and commercial tenants and supporting Venture Taranaki to help businesses.
The decision on what proposals to adopt at an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday, June 17. If approved, most will come into effect on July 1, with the local procurement policy effective immediately.