THE convenience of not needing spare change or using a parking app to park in Horsham's city centre is about to end on December 31.
Parking meters in the city centre have been inactive since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic; Business Horsham chairperson Paul Atherton believes there isn't much evidence it has impacted business.
Mr Atherton owns and runs Athlete's Foot said he found free parking had not impacted business during the pandemic.
"From where my business is located, people were in and out in a relatively short time," he said.
"The advantage was people weren't having the hassle of finding the coin to put into the machine or look up the app. It was more about the convenience."
"With foot traffic it's hard to measure and I don't think you can put it down to any one single factor. The biggest thing that influences our business is the weather. If it's a stinking hot day, people just won't go out to shop."
Mr Atherton said as long as the council's reasoning for the reinstatement is clear, it won't be an issue for the public.
"This is one of those divisive issues and everyone has their own opinion on it," he said.
"It's a case of necessary evil. But anything people have to pay for, they get cranky about. The money collected from the parking meters goes into the CBD rejuvenation and beautification. If we didn't have parking meters, we wouldn't be gathering that money.
"Council would need to find that money through other avenues such as rates. I see it as something that we do need to have. I think the issue is around the council adequately conveying what the money is used for. I honestly don't think it will have too much of a negative impact on business."
Mr Atherton said he hopes council will be "sensible" as they start the paid parking system again.
"Council also needs to recognise that it's not just people in Horsham who use those spaces," he said.
"We get a lot of people from Nhill, Warracknabeal, Edenhope, for example. They will need to understand as well that the parking meters are in use again. I would hope the council would show some leniency early on and issue some warnings."
Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Sunil Bhalla said parking meters revenue was invested back into central Horsham amenities.
"That income is allocated to the CBD and Car Park Development Reserve Fund which is used for improvement works throughout the centre of the city," Mr Bhalla said.
"Parking fees also encourage turnover of parking spaces which ultimately help more people access our local businesses."
Mr Bhalla said in the lead up to the reactivation of parking meters, parking signage must still be followed.
"I hope residents take advantage of the final days of free parking, however they must be aware that parking time limits and restrictions still apply, this includes loading and accessible parking bays," he said.
Since the parking meters were suspended in March, Council estimated it lost of $300,000 in revenue.
To help reintroduce parking meter fees, the first 30 minutes of parking will be free for those using the EasyPark app.
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