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EDITORIAL – Free parking was a good reminder why we have paid parking

(Image: CFJC Today)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

IT WAS NICE WHILE IT LASTED but free parking downtown is coming to an end because, quite simply, it didn’t work.

City council will approve a report from staff tomorrow recommending paid parking go back into effect in two phases. Starting after the May long weekend, paid parking will return on the street. After the July long weekend, or possibly the August long weekend, it will go into effect on City-owned surface lots and parkades.

The logic is that too many employees — those of businesses that are still open — are hogging free parking in front of the stores so that customers can’t find convenient parking spots.

Even the installation of temporary loading zone-and-pickup signs hasn’t deterred the parking-space hogs. There’s an answer to this, which is enforcement — aggressively ticket the offenders. If business owners cracked down on employees causing the problem it wouldn’t hurt, either.

It’s true, though, that the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions will result in more stores being open, and more demand for parking.

The experiment with free parking serves as a reminder of what paid parking is supposed to be all about. The temporary removal of paid parking was based on a Mr. Nice Guy approach in hopes that it would encourage shoppers to visit the stores that have remained open.

But it ignored what paid parking is designed to do, which is to keep shoppers and employees from taking up spaces over prolonged periods during business hours.

This short-term free-parking thing also brings into question the recent insistence at City Hall that the downtown area doesn’t actually need more parking.

As we return to paid parking, maybe we can begin the whole parking debate all over again, this time with fresh eyes.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7768 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – Free parking was a good reminder why we have paid parking

  1. R A George // May 16, 2020 at 1:48 PM // Reply

    We need a few more people on Kamloops council like Dennis Walsh. The old ” cop with a chalk” worked well.

  2. Dawne Taylor // May 11, 2020 at 9:41 PM // Reply

    Perhaps employers could purchase a limited number of street or lot spaces from the City (away from main downtown core), charge their employees for those spaces (a little less than street parking, but not much). Better still, all employers should be required to provide parking for their employees on their premises or subsidize the bus ride.

  3. Denis Walsh // May 11, 2020 at 1:39 PM // Reply

    I am still a strong believer in a proven form of free parking on Victoria Street, our most challenged downtown street for customers visiting our Downtown retail sector.
    Salmon Arm, a smaller municipality, but having similar downtown parking challenges, decided many years ago to make their own Victoria St. (Alexander) fully 1 hour free parking, using the less expensive, tried and true chalking system. Bylaws monitor street and there is a constant turnover and businesses thrive on that street, and they wouldn’t change this successful parking solution. If you want to stay longer, all other downtown streets have meters for stays of up to 3 hours. Our current system is still open for abuse by employees and requires strict and more expensive monitoring solutions.
    It has been working for years, it is an economic generator and working solution for their main street businesses, provides incredible turnover on the most popular and busiest street, and successfully deals with the age old problem of everyone wanting to park in front of the business they are choosing to go to. In Kamloops we have is a revenue led problem, not simply a parking management issue. The rest of the metered parking stalls would then support the cost of bylaws servicing the whole of downtown, businesses would benefit from a higher turnover of customers, and it would create happier customers because they could find the type of parking they require. It just somehow works.

  4. Iris Horutko // May 11, 2020 at 10:22 AM // Reply

    Business needs to source safe and convenient parking for all their staff. City needs to build the parking required to help enable this so that shoppers have spaces to park as well. Downtown must not fade away and die because city council will not make this a priority. And parking rates also need not be priced to the point of gouging. Keep the process simple and affordable for all.

  5. How is equating being able to park in front of the business one intends to visit with the overall parking picture? It does not.
    What was true before Covid 19 is still true now…walk a little!

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