Businesses say parking meters will drive shoppers away from Baylis Street as councillors prepare to consider a draft transport strategy.
Paid parking was one of the potential solutions for CBD congestion in the draft Integrated Transport Strategy (ITS), which council will consider making public on Monday night.
The ITS has split the CBD into a “core”, including Fitzmaurice and Baylis streets as well as streets on either side and a “frame”, which will extend from Beckwith and Thorne streets to the Murrumbidgee River.
The core would include short-term parking, with the possibility of paid parking in the future, while the frame was for all-day commuter parking.
In addition to the new parking model, a proposed pilot bus project would see a few major bus routes with smaller, supporting shuttle busses that could link under-used parking areas like Wagga beach to the CBD.
According to council, there are more than 3000 on-street and almost 4500 off-street parking spaces in the CBD.
City strategy manager Tristan Kell said the core was where most activity occurred and the frame would support it.
“We want a ‘people focus’ in the city,” he said.
“But we also want to support retail and a high turnover of parking in the core.”
While the move to the new model didn’t necessarily mean parking meters would be introduced, Mr Kell didn’t completely rule out paid parking either, which would likely be investigated in “key areas”.
Wagga Laser Zone owner Glen White said parking meters would scare people out of the CBD, but he thought other ITS suggestions like parking shuttles had merit.
“This block is probably the worst, the others have big parking areas,” Mr White said. “A town loop might see more people venture down this way.”
Jardines Cafe owner Rob Illsley said the number of people who visited Wagga for health services meant there was a need for a mix of accessible parking spaces as well as “backup parking” such as multi-storey car parks off the main street.
“The days of parking right out the front are gone,” Mr Illsley said.
“But people need to be within walking distance to shops and restaurants.
“A ‘park and ride’ system could work as long as they manage the growth of the city.”