Parking charges could double in parts of Tauranga's downtown to free up carparks and encourage more people to catch the bus.

Instead of an hour's on-street parking costing $1 around the periphery of the city centre, the council proposes to charge $2 - effectively making all-day parking cheaper in parking buildings than on the street.

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The moves comes too late for Eastern Hi Fi owner Graham Whitaker, whose takings dived when the council removed the time limits on downtown carparks nearly four years ago. People were paying only $6 from 9am to 3pm to park all day outside his former shop in Cameron Rd.

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"It was really annoying, no one was able to stop outside the shop. I was so glad when the lease ran out."

Eastern Hi Fi's shift down to Durham St, where an hour's parking cost $2, had seen his turnover pick up 30 per cent. Mr Whitaker favoured the re-introduction of time limits and wondered how long the perk of free parking after 3pm would last.

The shake-up of downtown parking was signalled at a recent council meeting that dealt with big issues looming in the 2017-18 Annual Plan. A full report on the parking changes will come to the council next month.

The proposed new parking charges were to "manage parking demand and occupancy rates and to encourage changes in people's travel habits". The council wanted a simple and coherent fee structure across on-street, off-street and parking buildings.

Duane Coker of The Tool Shed in 2nd Ave said his turnover was down 15 to 20 per cent because customers could not find parks.

"It's killing the business."

He supported making all-day parking more expensive than the proposed flat $10 early-bird rate for both the carpark buildings.

"Most of the parks are gone before we open the doors at 8am," Mr Coker said.

We have a struggle with people getting carparks. People want to come in and donate but they can't because they can't find a park.

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Craig Teaz of Restore opportunity shop said parking availability had been fine until Trustpower opened its new head office in Durham St. The situation worsened when the IRD building opened.

"We have a struggle with people getting carparks. People want to come in and donate but they can't because they can't find a park."

The council tried to improve the situation about seven months ago by putting in small 60-minute parking zones on either side of 2nd Ave but people still parked there all day.

Mayor Greg Brownless did not want to tinker too much with on-street parking except to bring in time limits to increase turnover and give everyone a chance to park near the shop.

He said If the council did not start embracing public transport, the roads would choke up. Businesses that leased carparks should be prepared to pay a little more.

Tauranga Mainstreet's immediate past chairman, Glenn Tuck, said the price of parking was not the issue and he did not believe increasing the fee by a dollar or re-introducing time limits would change people's love affair with their cars.

Mr Tuck said what the downtown needed was more parking. The Harington St parking building should start now, and public transport should be more efficient. "It is an education thing; people have to be led by the nose.''

Mainstreet chairman Brian Berry of the Property Managers Group said the solution could be a mix of changes to parking costs, how long people could park, and better frequency of buses.

Downtown parking fee proposed changes
- All pay and display per hour on- and off-street $2 per hour.
- Early-bird parking Spring St building $10 (up $1)
- Early-bird parking Elizabeth St building $10 (up $3)
- Monthly half-day concession cards $70 (up $20)
- Monthly full-day concession cards $100 (up $20)
- Dive Crescent and Cliff Rd parking areas up 50c a day