Extra parking spaces added and longer stays in busy precinct around hospitals
Massive changes are coming to car parking in the city centre and the busy hospital precinct.
The changes are a mix of good and bad news for motorists, businesses and tourists.
On the plus side, an extra 350 car parks will be added around the Cairns Hospital and Cairns Private Hospital area with time limits changed to provide 3-hour premium paid parking immediately next to the hospitals along with either free four-hour or eight-hour parks nearby.
But the news isn't so rosy for CBD motorists, with an increase in parking charges and fines and the extension of regulated parking hours from 8.30am to 6pm, seven days a week.
Previously, motorists could park for free from midday on Saturday and all day on Sunday.
Effective from January 1st 2018, parking fines will rise by about 15 per cent, meaning an increase from $50 to $58 for the most common infringement of overstaying in a parking space or failing to pay for parking.
Parking fees will also rise by 20c an hour, with further increases of 20c an hour each year for the next four years. The increase in the first year will see the casual parking rate rise to $1.40 an hour.
The council says the changes will ensure a greater turnover of spaces in the CBD, with many motorists happy to risk a fine because the current $50 amount was "so low".
The changes are supported by the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, Cairns Private Hospital and Cairns State High School.
Works will start next month to provide the additional parking around the hospitals, with acting Mayor Terry James saying the changes to parking throughout the CBD were about finding the right balance for visitors to the city and businesses.
“Extending the hours of regulation to weekends will ensure we continue to get a turn-over of vehicles so people can access their favourite shops, cafes and restaurants,” Cr James said.
He said the return of 300 car parks back on line at the Lake St parking station will also help ease current parking woes.