PARKING. IT’S A TOPIC WE LOVE TO DEBATE, discuss, dissect and study. The question for me is: Why is parking is such a hot button topic?
Depending on who you talk to, the reasons for the parking debate are many. Some would attribute it to abundant affluence which results in a community of privileged drivers where it’s perceived as a birth right to drive. Others would tell you it’s due to lack of accessible and appropriate transport options. Still others would tell you its geography.
I don’t know that there is ever “one answer” to these social challenges. I can tell that as a former employer of over 50 staff in a business that operated 24 hours a day and seven days a week, driving was a necessity.
If I had a non-driver I couldn’t staff them after 10:00 without lining up a ride, due to a lack of bus service from the Shore to uptown.
I can tell you, having ridden a school bus on the vast openness of the prairies growing up, that typical Canadian winter cold is not pleasant to stand and wait for buses in.
I can tell you that we (me included) live farther away from commerce centres and so need to get to shopping and services in a quick and efficient manner.
Which gets us to the real question: Why don’t we design better cities, that are decentralized, allow for easier access to transit, and have shopping hubs within walking distance to most homes?
The reality is that urban sprawl has been, and continues to be, the single greatest challenge to efficient movement of people and our driving problem (notice I didn’t say parking).
Here on the Shore, we are working on options to challenge our driving problem by opening up to our members and community in our upcoming planning session, the discussion of our parking/driving and transportation options.
We believe that while central hubs such as a Performing Arts Center are great for community celebrations and large scale events; smaller more intimate event venues can connect our communities, get us out of cars, minimize traffic congestion and create greater connectivity.
I offer this thought to challenge you to think in different terms, to think creatively about the common challenges we all experience in our cities, and communities within those cities. I challenge you to come up with solutions, and then share them with us. If we live in a world of complacency, we shrink from opportunity. When we think critically about our future, new horizons emerge.
I hope I will see you at one of our community planning sessions. Your voice and ideas are critical to creating the well balanced community that someday may solve our driving problem, and other challenges.
Jeremy Heighton is executive director of the North Shore Business Improvement Association. He has lectured on leadership and business around the world.