LETHBRIDGE -- Parking enforcement in Lethbridge’s downtown area will become active again on Tuesday.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, payments for parking have still been accepted but enforcement has been limited, focusing only on accessibility and safety, as bylaw officers were deployed elsewhere.

“The decision to do that was based on information that was collected over the last few months on the number of vehicles parking in the downtown, where it’s reflected to the point where we’re close to where, if not already at, pre-COVID parking statistics in the downtown area,” said senior bylaw enforcement officer Dave Henley.

That doesn’t mean they’ll begin issuing tickets right away, however.

To prepare residents for the return of regular parking operations downtown, enforcement officers will be placing notices on windshields from Sept. 1 to 13 to remind people to pay for parking.

“If somebody gets one of these, it’s just a notice reminding them that until the 14th you need to pay to park or you get one these,” said Henley. “After the 14th it will be back to the regular violation ticket.”

The City of Lethbridge has consulted with the Downtown BRZ to introduce some parking incentives beginning September 1st as well, given the impact that parking will have on economic recovery efforts.

Those new incentives, all of which will be in effect until December 31st, include:

A 50 per cent reduction on monthly Zone 10 price from $72 to $36;

50 per cent off the monthly parking permits at the Lethbridge Park n’ Ride Transit Terminal from $105 to $52.50, and;

Reduced the minimum purchase amount on the Way to Park app from $1.80 to $1 for an hour.

With a lot of staff working reduced hours due to some businesses still not running at full capacity, parking coordinator Phillip Berg says the city wanted to take some of the burden off by allowing people to continue using their monthly areas at a reduced price.

“We’re hoping that, with some reduced rates throughout the year as well as next year, we’ll probably continue our buy one month get one month half off price, so once we get that set up, we’ll be able to put more vehicles into the [Park n’ Ride Transit Terminal]," he said.

Officials are encouraging residents to download the Way to Park app for contactless payment options and to avoid touching the kiosks.