Halifax regional council has approved changes to the municipality's new parking system, including lifting the four-hour time limit per zone.
Parking meters in peninsular Halifax and downtown Dartmouth were replaced last October with digital pay stations and zones.
"This is the second set of major changes," said Coun. Shawn Cleary. "We're being nimble, we're trying stuff, we're adapting to feedback."
There will be variable rates for certain times to discourage commuters from using on-street spots for all-day parking.
"You would hope that it would be cheaper to go to the off-street parking rather than use the on-street parking," said Coun. Lindell Smith. "We know that downtown there is ample availability."
A commuter zone for people who use public transit has also been established in Dartmouth's Woodside neighbourhood. The zone is close to the Dartmouth General Hospital, where most of the on-street parking has been free and unrestricted.
Victoria Horne, who is responsible for HRM's parking program, told councillors the free parking has led to a number of accidents and complaints. She outlined the changes for the area.
"The majority of parking available will be by permit, reserved for commuter parking," said Horne. "Closest to the hospital there will be some limited parking for one or two hours, but we are not recommending putting in pay stations in this area."
Horne said the changes will be evaluated over the next six months to ensure they don't have an impact on residential side streets. The local councillor said changes are needed.
"It is just a big free-for-all now," said Coun. Sam Austin. "It does need a more organized approach."
Coun. Waye Mason also asked staff to look into other changes that could support downtown businesses, including providing free parking on Thursday or Friday for a three- to six-month trial period.
"There's clearly a lot more we can do as more and more people are vaccinated to incentivize them to come downtown, but we need to be strategic about it," said Mason.
Mason hopes the report can be completed in time for the upcoming summer season.
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