Aerial view over Mooloolaba Beach. Photo Lachie Millard
Aerial view over Mooloolaba Beach. Photo Lachie Millard

Paid parking D-Day set to be locked in for Mooloolaba

Beachgoers in the heart of Mooloolaba will soon be forced to choose between shelling out for a carpark by the hour, or taking their chances of securing a free space limited to two hours.

Sunshine Coast councillors are set to meet on December 10 to decide on the parking fees and start date for paid parking to officially rollout in Mooloolaba and the new Maroochydore CBD.

It's understood a strong majority of councillors had already indicated they would back the recommendations before them.

PAY UP: Councillor reveals paid parking bid

Council officers recommended from January 18, 2021, users would pay $2.50 an hour to park in the new $18 million, multistorey Brisbane Road carpark.

A one-month grace period of sorts would be offered from the carpark's planned opening date of December 23, 2020, which would provide three hours' free parking or a $10 a day fee for cars parked beyond three hours.

An architectural drawing shows the design of a multi-level parking station and food outlet proposed to be built on the Brisbane Road carpark site at Mooloolaba.
An architectural drawing shows the design of a multi-level parking station and food outlet proposed to be built on the Brisbane Road carpark site at Mooloolaba.

From January 18 no free parking periods would apply, although a capped $12.50 daily rate would apply beyond four hours.

The mid-January 'go live' date for the multideck carpark was poised to coincide with a shift in parking time limits in the heart of the tourism destination.

An area stretching from Venning St to Parkyn Pde, covering Beach Tce, Mooloolaba Esp, First Ave, Brisbane Rd, Burnett St, Muraban St, Smith St back to Hancock St, as well as The Wharf precinct, were also proposed to become two-hours or less parking zones.

The new 700-space ParknGo Mooloolaba Central carpark at Brisbane Rd cost $18 million to build and was "being met by council through borrowings", the officer's report stated.

Financial modelling showed the estimated full year costs for the central Mooloolaba precinct were about $2.5 million per annum.

Initial costs and debt repayments for the 2020-21 financial year were estimated to be $771,000.

Budget battle set to erupt over paid parking

It was estimated a parking fee of $2.41-$3 an hour was needed to generate enough revenue to cover costs based on forecast annual average parking occupancy rates of 40-50 per cent for the ParknGo Mooloolaba Central facility.

The officer's report stated that if fees weren't applied to the new carpark, the "cost per rateable property would be about $18 applied across the entire Sunshine Coast Council region for a 20-year term".

Brisbane Road carpark during construction. Picture: Patrick Woods
Brisbane Road carpark during construction. Picture: Patrick Woods

The new carpark was due to operate using an automated number plate recognition system with cash and card payments to be made at a payment kiosk in the carpark lobby, or with debit/credit cards at pay-on-exit units.

An at-grade carpark on Brisbane Rd next to the new multideck carpark would remain three hours free until number plate recognition technology was installed in early-2021, at which point it too would become $2.50 an hour capped at $12.50 a day.

That carpark was set to remain "until this site redeveloped from 2022".

An at-grade carpark in the new Maroochydore CBD, which was expected to last about three years, with fees to be capped at $2 an hour capped at $6 a day, from January 18, 2020.

"The arrangements proposed in this report may have a minor impact on regulated parking

resources in the Mooloolaba area," the officer's report stated.

"Should this be the case, the matter will be referred for consideration in a future budget review process."

Mooloolaba Chamber of Commerce president Graeme Juniper said the organisation had been invited to speak with council before the final decision.

He said if they got it wrong it would have a "major impact" on business in the area.

Mr Juniper said five councillors had pledged support for free parking as part of their election platforms and he hoped they would honour that when it came time to make a decision.

He said the Chamber was not supportive of parking meters in the streets and he said they felt there needed to be a "free parking element" to whatever plan was rolled out.

Mr Juniper said controlled parking which encouraged turnover was supported by businesses.

"We certainly don't want Mooloolaba to have a problem and suddenly be inaccessible to locals and visitors, that would be catastrophic," Mr Juniper said.