Town Clerk says amended parking meters contract to be signed

-new by-laws to be studied

According to Town Clerk Royston King, the Mayor and City Councillors of Georgetown will by the end of February be considering a new set of metered parking by-laws.

Responding to questions from Councillor Noelle Chow-Chee, King explained that he will soon be signing an amended contract on behalf of the council while the redrafted by-laws will be presented for consideration.

“The by-laws…are being redrafted and they will be brought to council if not at the next Statutory Meeting then at an extraordinary meeting…to be called within the month,” King said.

Last month 15 city councillors voted in favour of accepting the recommendations of the parking meter renegotiation committee, which would see a reduction in parking fees to $150 per hour, exemptions for religious organisations and schools, and Smart City Solutions (SCS) giving up on their claim to garage parking.

The vote took place at an extraordinary statutory meeting of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), which was called to review the recommendations of the committee’s report and vote on the way forward in regards to the metered parking project.

The recommendations were opposed by only four councillors—Deputy Mayor Lionel Jaikarran, former Deputy Mayor, Sherod Duncan and PPP/C councillors Bishram Kuppen and Khame Sharma. Two councillors abstained from the vote.

Duncan and Jaikarran, have been vocal in their opposition to the metered parking contract between Smart City Solutions (SCS) and the M&CC.

Duncan said after the vote that those councillors who support the contract will find themselves on the wrong side of history.

“The majority of persons in Georgetown you talk to on a daily basis do not like this contract. Nobody is against parking meters per se—regulating the trafficking and all the benefits you can get from parking meters—but this contract which parking meters stem from as a traffic management tool is a flawed contract from the inception and that is what people don’t like—the fact that the contract has been shrouded in secrecy and a whole bunch of other stuff…this is not a good contract for the city,” Duncan, said adding that renegotiation of the contract “cannot change an illegality” in the minds of those who have opposed it from the inception.

Duncan added that the vision of the council and central government seem to be at odds. He referenced a sustainable urban transport study done on Georgetown, including metered parking, which he opined is focused in the opposite direction from which the council seems to want to go.

Perhaps the greatest opposition to the contract (which began with a 49-year agreement, which was later amended to 20 years) involving the city and SCS is the “terror clause” which states that were the agreement to be unilaterally terminated by the city, they would be required to “pay the concessionaire a lump sum payment equivalent to (i) the total direct and indirect, hard and soft cost cumulative gross investment of the concessionaire in the project; plus (ii) an amount equal to 25% of the direct and indirect hard and soft cost cumulative gross investment of the concessionaire in the project; multiplied by the number of years (or fraction) remaining under the term…(iii) the reasonable out of pocket and documented costs and expenses incurred by the concessionaire as a direct result of such termination.”

According to the final report from the renegotiation committee, part of the new agreement between the two parties is that the burden to be borne by the city should the contract be terminated will be far “less burdensome”.

“Smart City Solutions agreed that the lump sum payment required by the City for the unilateral termination will no longer be calculated by number of years (or fraction thereof), and further the conditions for unilateral termination will be adjusted to become less burdensome on the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown”, the report said.

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