PARKING: Always at a premium down in Byron Bay CBD.
PARKING: Always at a premium down in Byron Bay CBD. Contributed

OPINION: Byron Bay parking fees will hit locals hardest

FORMER Byron Shire News editor Gary Chigwidden had a mighty spray on Facebook this week about Byron Shire Council's plan to start charging $4 an hour to park in the Byron Bay central business district.

The core of Mr Chigwidden's complaint is the impact this fee would have on locals because, despite the impression you might draw looking at the cost of housing and shopping at Byron Bay, not everybody who lives there is rich.

Mr Chigwidden makes the point there are many locals who will find the council's $100-a-year fee for a parking permit beyond their reach, and he's right.

READ THE STORY: Chigwidden hits out at Byron Council over paid parking

Without that pass, he notes the parking fee will effectively turn a $4 coffee into an $8 coffee. I like a nice cuppa, so I'll accept that as bad.

However, I wonder how much more broadly the impact will be felt.

How keen are you going to be to take your kids to Nippers in the summer or soccer a few times a week in the winter if you have to fork out an $16 just to cover the cost of parking?

Are you going to watch a movie at the cinema if parking means the cost of your ticket is increased by more two thirds?

There are already many who live at Byron/Suffolk/Sunrise/Ewingsdale who avoid town during the summer just because it's so crowded. Will they all now start avoiding it year-round just because it costs too much to park?

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So many locals have already suffered through seeing Byron Bay's uniqueness diminish as one local business after another collapses under the weight of high rents and the tourism market.

How will the few that remain cope if high parking fees chase the local client base out of the CBD too?