Free parking at weekends, initiatives aimed at boosting CBD 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.

In recognition that parking is not the only factor that may be affecting visitation to the CBD, Council will explore a range of other actions in the city centre which include:

  • An independent review on the CBD’s current commercial offerings and seeking guidance by experts on worldwide trends
  • Expanding the activation program which currently features performances in Shields Street by students from CQU’s Performing Arts faculty
  • Reinvigorating Council’s Urban Spaces program to give small start-up businesses the opportunity to trial trading in the CBD
  • Reinstating a CBD Place Manager to be a key liaison between traders and Council
  • A review of lighting and safety in Shields Street
  • An overall review of security services in the CBD, outlining future opportunities and advancements in security technologies, and
  • A review of wayfinding signage.

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.”

Major projects that will start in the near future include the Florence Street upgrade, the revamp of the Esplanade dining precinct, and the completion of the Shields Street Heart project (from Abbott to the Esplanade).

/Public Release. View in full here.