Some Winnipeg business owners are worried about a proposed metered parking hike.

Kari England owns Toad Hall Toys, a business that’s been in the Exchange District for nearly 40 years. For her customers who driver to the store, they have to find parking and pay for it.

The proposed parking hike has England concerned.

“This does nothing positive. It just makes coming downtown or to the Exchange an added cost that many people will decide not to incur,” said England.

The City of Winnipeg’s 2018 budget proposes a parking increase of $1.50, meaning metered parking in the core will go from $2 to $3.50.

At first, the city was considering a $1 increase, but an extra 50 cents was tacked on to help cover transit costs.

CKLY Fashion and Bridal owner Kelly Ly expects this hike will hurt her business.

“People will come, but only a little if they need to come to downtown,” Ly said.

Mayor Brian Bowman said the increase will help with much needed parking turnover, which is something Downtown Winnipeg Biz CEO Stefano Grande hopes is true.

“We want to create that 15 per cent vacancy rate so when somebody is coming to buy a wedding gown, or pick up a parcel, or pick up some eyeglasses, that short term parking is there and it’s available,” Grande said.

He said if the hike is approved, Downtown Winnipeg Biz will keep an eye on how it affects businesses.

Compared to metered parking rates in other cities, Winnipeg falls in the middle. Calgary and Edmonton both charge drivers based on demand and time of day. Drivers in Calgary will pay $5 during peak times, while those in Edmonton in high-demand areas pay $3.50. Drivers in both Saskatoon and Regina pay $2 an hour for parking.

If rates go up in Winnipeg, England said business owners will have to work harder.

“It’s just convincing people that there’s enough on offer in areas where they have to pay, as compared to driving and going to the mall,” England said.

City council will vote on the budget Tuesday.

The last time drivers were hit with a parking increase downtown was in November 2012, when parking went from $1 an hour to $2.