On-street parking would be free in the city until the end of summer under an election policy outlined by Melbourne Town Hall hopeful Arron Wood.
Deputy lord mayor Wood, who is challenging lord mayor Sally Capp for the top job at next month’s council election, said the policy would cost $10 million but would be invaluable in attracting shoppers back to the CBD.
« With public transport patronage likely to remain low due to social distancing requirements, we need to come up with other ways to entice people to come into the city to spend money at our renowned retail outlets, cafes and restaurants and world-leading arts and cultural attractions, » he said.
« The idea is that people will be more likely to pop in to the city to do a quick shop or pick up takeaway if they don’t have to pay for parking, » Cr Wood said.
« It’s not about providing free all-day parking for city workers, because we want the parks to turn over frequently to encourage more customers for our businesses.
« We know from our traders that it is critical to get that turn-over of parking spaces so they’re available for people coming in to spend money in the city. »
Designer Tiffany Treloar, who runs a boutique in Flinders Lane, has been operating an online-only service for almost six months.
She opened her store to be part of the vibrancy of the CBD but has been concerned that after lockdowns lift her clientele will remain « very reticent » to use public transport in the medium term.
« We need clean, safe and affordable parking, because people will remain very reticent going into the future to use public transport, » Ms Treloar said.
Before Melbourne’s rolling lockdowns first took effect, almost 1 million people travelled into a bustling CBD each day. Last month, the city centre recorded a grim milestone as the number of pedestrians plummeted by 90 per cent.
Cr Wood’s bid for the top job is based on a small and medium-sized business recovery platform. He has previously announced he wants to push the state government to extend the five-kilometre distance from home restrictions to 10 kilometres, to allow more people to travel into the CBD.
He has also said that if elected he would immediately commit to releasing an extra $20 million from the city’s budget into a small and medium-sized business recovery package.
Cr Wood’s running mate is Lisa Teh, founder and director of content and digital marketing outfit CODI Agency.
Also on his ticket is Nillumbik councillor Peter Clarke, who previously served as a City of Melbourne councillor, and sitting councillor Beverley Pinder.
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Bianca Hall is City Editor for The Age. She has previously worked as a senior reporter, and in the Canberra federal politics bureau.
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