The Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has further delayed discussions of the Parking Meter Project. At the Council’s statutory meeting late Monday afternoon, Councillors heard that September 7 is the new date when the matter will be discussed. The announcement was disclosed by Mayor Patricia Chase Green, who told Councillors that come next week Thursday; they must be fully prepared to discuss the project.
The Parking Meter Project attracted much controversy since its introduction in May 2016. However, it was when it officially rolled out in the latter part of January 2017, that citizens formed large protests where hundreds of people from various cross-sections of society gathered in front of City Hall for several weeks, calling for a rescinding of the parking meter contract. These sustained protests resulted in Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan ordering that the paid parking initiative be suspended and a committee be formed to have the contract revised.
At Monday’s meeting, the Mayor clarified that it was the elected Council which agreed to suspend the project. At the last meeting held on August 17, 2017, recommendations were compiled by the Parking Meter Negotiation Committee, headed by Councillor Malcom Ferreira, where it was suggested that the Council could discontinue the metered parking system with Smart City Solutions (SCS). Other recommendations had included continuing the metered parking system in accordance to law – relating to a legal and transparent process as outlined in Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01, and to continue the metered parking system independently or await the outcome of pending court proceedings on the subject matter.
Other concerns in the report included the transparency of the process, whether due diligence was observed – especially since the Legal Advisor of the Council indicated that he was not a part of the initial process of the formation of the contract; the termination clause; the dispute resolution/jurisdiction since the contract in its present state calls for arbitration to be conducted in a foreign court, the seize and sell clause, harsh penalties and booting.
Other issues that the Committee had noted highlighted that the contract include rates for residential parking, rates for commercial parking, group rates for taxis and minibuses, the revenue split of 80-20 per cent – with SCS holding majority – duration of the contract, tax concessions, monopoly on parking and location of meters. Additionally, transfer of time on cards, impact on income, parking spaces for parking not in good conditions, size of parking space, wages, exemptions, traffic congestion in city, car park issues, attitude of SCS staff, economic report, designated areas for schools/differently abled, distance of parking meters from spaces, placement of meters, and the fact that the main partner was a foreign company were all matters that received attention. According to the report, the Council can choose to continue the Metered Parking System with Smart City Solutions. However, to move forward under that option, the Committee must be mandated to renegotiate on Council’s behalf so as to address and resolve all of the points/findings listed in this report [concerns].
The original parking meter contract, which has to date not been publicly released, has a duration of 20 years, upon which the Council has the option to renew. Furthermore, it obligates parkers to pay $200 per hour of parking. Failure to do so will result in the respective vehicle being clamped, or possibly seized.