Cairns City Centre reinstates free parking to boost visitation

Free parking on Saturday after 2pm and all day on Sundays will be reinstated as part of a range of initiatives Cairns Regional Council will explore to ensure the Cairns city centre is a vibrant business and recreational district for locals and tourists.

The decision to bring back free parking for most of the weekend has come in the wake of concerns by CBD traders that visitation to the precinct has reduced as a result of 7-day regulated parking coming into effect on January 2018. (At the time, Council implemented the new rules in response to CBD traders requesting more regulation to achieve turnover of car spaces.)

Free parking from 2pm Saturday and all day on Sundays will not commence until signage across the city has been changed and ticket machines are updated. Council will investigate options to fast track the implementation.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said the importance of having a vibrant and active CBD could not be understated.

“The CBD is front and centre when it comes to tourists coming to Cairns and we need to ensure that it remains a vibrant precinct that offers the right mix of shopping and recreational activities for visitors, but importantly, also for locals,” he said.

“Council has invested around $138 million in the city centre over the last four years to continue to improve the experiences of patrons to the CBD and to ensure it remains the contemporary and vibrant heart of our city.

“But we know that despite providing this infrastructure, there are still challenges facing our CBD and we have listened to traders and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce to determine what some of the issues may be.”

“There are now a range of projects and initiatives on the table that are aimed at enhancing the CBD to make it more attractive to locals and to ensure it also delivers from a tourism perspective.

“At the end of the day, it is up to all of us to support the CBD to ensure its future prosperity. Providing free parking on Saturday afternoons and all day on Sundays is one way we can encourage residents to come into the city, walk around, browse the shops, have something to eat and enjoy the many great things about our CBD.”

The announcement about the reinstatement of free parking followed news in the same week that Council is creating a new 150-space off-street car park at the Old Post Office site on Grafton Street. Work has commenced to demolish existing buildings on the site, with the parking spaces to be completed by October.

Council has resolved to seek expressions of interest from commercial operators to determine if there is industry interest in running the car park and the feasibility of the car park being managed by a third party.

It is anticipated that the car park will provide casual and all-day parking options.

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