Wellingtonians could soon lose their free weekend parking in the city, in favour of lower rates.

The Wellington City Council's draft 10-year-plan contains a proposal to stop providing free on-street parking in the CBD on weekends, and instead charge $2.50 an hour.

The proposed change would help keep rates from getting too high and would make it easier for people to find a park on busy weekends, Mayor Justin Lester said.

"We've had free weekend parking for a number of years in Wellington but it comes at a cost, because it comes with a subsidy we provide to enable people to park for free," he said.


"We have two choices: ratepayers can pay a little more to subsidise free weekend parking or the people actually parking can pay $2.50 an hour. We have significant demand for car parks and I don't think offering them for free helps that. This will encourage turnover.

"Early projections for the 2018-19 year was that rates would come in at 7.2 per cent, which was unacceptable.

"It's always a challenge when prioritising investment in Wellington and our Council is working hard to keep rates affordable.

"We've gone through the proposed 10 year plan with a fine tooth comb. Our report released later today will show a rates increase of 4.3 per cent, but we have are committed to reducing that further to 3.9 per cent, which I hope to introduce as an amendment next week."

Lester said he was determined the council would not cut services or jobs as part of bringing down rates.

The weekend charge would be discounted - on weekdays it costs $4.50 an hour to park in the CBD.

"We've canvassed the business community and the retail community and we said 'look, on the balance what do you think?'"

He said the majority of businesses wanted more turnover in the CBD parks.


"Having that charge will help focus people's minds and hopefully increase turnover of parks.

"Either way, someone pays."

He believed the change wouldn't have too much of an impact on whether people came into the CBD.

The draft 10 year plan will go online at about 6pm. Council will deliberate on March 7 and formal consultation will begin on 15 April.