Want a day at the beach on the Mornington Peninsula this summer? It will cost you to park there

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Key points

  • Mornington Peninsula Shire Council will make visitors pay $6.20 an hour to park along Flinders Pier Foreshore in Flinders, Schnapper Point Foreshore in Mornington and Sunnyside Beach Foreshore in Mount Eliza, to increase revenue.
  • According to the council, 7.5 million people visit Mornington Peninsula, leaving the council to pay $8 million in foreshore maintenance costs.
  • Other bayside councils like the City of Port Phillip and Bayside, charge $6 and $6.25 an hour, respectively, for beachside car parking.
  • Flinders resident Charles Reis said he didn’t agree with visitors paying for parking because going to beach was “sacrosanct” to Australian culture.

Visitors to the Mornington Peninsula will now have to pay to park at the beach as the council seeks to recoup losses in maintenance costs associated with growing tourist numbers.

Motorists will need to pay $6.20 an hour across three beach car parks, including Flinders Pier in Flinders, Schnapper Point in Mornington and Sunnyside Beach in Mount Eliza.

Mount Eliza residents Tom Fernie and Taysha at the Sunnyside Beach foreshore car park, where parking is no longer free for visitors.Credit: Penny Stephens

The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council said the nine-month paid parking pilot, which began on Friday, the first day of summer, would generate much-needed revenue for the shire.

The paid parking will run between 8am and 8pm and a daily rate is capped at $19.50.

A nine-month paid parking pilot will be rolled out at Schnapper Point foreshore carpark in Mornington.Credit: Mornington Peninsula Shire Council

Locals are exempt from paying, but will be required to apply for an electronic permit to access the beaches for free. They can receive up to five permits per household.

Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor Simon Brooks said some residents had met the plans with resistance, but insisted paid parking for visitors was long overdue.

“The season has stretched on both ends and the tourists numbers have exploded in recent years, and the location population has also grown,” Brooks said. “It is worth noting that we are one of the last bayside councils to introduce paid parking for non-residents.”

According to the council, about 7.5 million people visit the tourist hotspot each year, putting pressure on parking and related infrastructure.

The council spends $8 million in yearly foreshore maintenance costs for car parks, pathways, public toilets, playgrounds, barbecues and beach cleaning.

“Some of our beaches get absolutely hammered over summer, and we have limited resources. The shire itself manages 62 kilometres of coastline on behalf of the state government,” Brooks said.

Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor Simon Brooks said the council spends $8 million on foreshore maintenance costs because of increasing tourist numbers. Credit: Simon Schluter

“The paid parking is an illustration of how local government is trying to become more sustainable and not impose the cost on their ratepayers.”

The paid parking will also include a mix of new timing restrictions of two and four-hour limits and all-day parking to ease turnover of visitors at Schnapper Point foreshore in Mornington. There will be no time restrictions at Sunnyside Beach or Flinders Pier foreshores.

Vehicle identification camera technology has been installed at a cost of $165,000 to scan licence plates and crack down on people who have not paid, do not have a permit or have overstayed the parking time limit.

Mount Eliza resident Tom Fernie said he had noticed the council’s paid parking pilot had already started freeing up parking spots at the Sunnyside Beach foreshore car park.

“I think it’s definitely from the paid parking change,” he said.

Fernie, who is eligible for a resident parking permit, said the parking tickets were too expensive.

“I normally go for a quick swim every day. I probably wouldn’t if I had to pay $6 an hour,” he said.

Flinders resident Charles Reis said he supported the need for raising revenue in the shire, but he took issue with the cost of the parking, paperless technology impacting older visitors and poor community consultation. Reis also feared the trial would eventually be extended across the rest of the shire.

“A day at the beach in the past has always been an inexpensive activity for low-income families,” Reis said.

“There are some things that are sacrosanct and unique to our culture in Australia and it would be sad to see it go.”

The Mornington Peninsula council said the parking tickets had been benchmarked against other bayside councils, such as Port Phillip and Bayside, where tickets cost $6 and $6.25 per hour, respectively.

The council said it would review the pilot after six months and consider whether to keep the paid parking and expand it to other foreshore car parks in the area.

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