Vic Harbour parking woes

By Alison Kinkade

Small business owner Helen Pentaris says the lack of a loading zone in Docklands’ Collins St is costing her and others precious business and she desperately wants it fixed.

After a year of operating her Fruit for You and Flowers Too business, located under the ANZ Centre in Victoria Harbour, Ms Pentaris believes her couriers have racked up at least seven fines.

“Many couriers are now refusing to do business here and that means we can’t do business. But I can understand their frustration because they get paid hardly anything per job and then they need to pay a $70 fine for stopping here for five minutes,” Ms Pentaris said.

Though small businesses in the area do have access to a loading dock, Ms Pentaris said this was completely inappropriate for the type of deliveries they receive and send, as it is located about a block away on the other side of the building.

“I have fresh flowers to drop off and pick up and though the dock staff are great and call immediately when things arrive, you just can’t drop a client your talking to, leave your business and go and pick up your item,” she said.

Ms Pentaris said the general consensus among local businesses was that they needed a loading zone. She said it was an issue of health and safety with many of the businesses receiving hot and cold food.

“I can’t have flowers sitting there in the weather, but it’s even worse for the other businesses who get big pots of soup delivered that they can’t be expected to carry all the way from the dock and there’s also food like sushi that can’t be left at a dock.”

Ms Pentaris said she didn’t understand why they couldn’t have a loading zone when the city had so many.

“We could use the area near the tram track where the road gets wider or, if that is a safety issue, they could cut out some pavement to have a semi-circle area where couriers could load and unload for 5-10 minutes,” Ms Pentaris said.

A spokesperson for the City of Melbourne said: “The City of Melbourne has not received any complaints. We encourage these businesses to contact us.”

Emily Ballantyne-Brodie, founder and managing director of Urban Reforestation, is also concerned about parking issues in Docklands.

Ms Ballantyne-Brodie said five volunteers from her organisation recently received tickets when they were a few minutes late getting to the parking meter.

“Everyone had done the right thing and put money in the meter, but because they missed it by a few minutes they all received fines,” she said.

Ms Ballantyne-Brodie said it was ridiculous that people who volunteered their time to put something into the Docklands community should be fined.

“I think there should be some sort of permit system for residents and small businesses because they’re all supporting this developing area and should have some support back,” she said.

Ms Ballantyne-Brodie said that, while the council had been a great supporter of her organisation, she hoped it would consider some changes to parking.

“Docklands is great, but it would be great if there was some free weekend parking available to encourage people to come down. They are trying to get people to visit and it just seems ironic that the parking deters people,” she said.