Saturday, January 12, 2008

Will more problems fix the problem this time?

An interesting report in the Free Press on that problem that for sixty years just hasn't gone away, the downtown parking problem.

Today, this is being tackled with more vigour than we've seen since the early Juba years in the 1960s--which everyone knows ushered in a second golden age for Winnipeg's central business disctrict.

And who better to take on the parking issue, than a host of suburbanites who commute to their jobs downtown by car?

"CentreVenture CEO Ross McGowan said he has three more locations on his parkade wish list: North of Portage Avenue...; on the west side of Main Street north of Logan Avenue...; and on the east side of the Exchange District, where there are not enough new parking spots to meet the demand from new condominium owners."

Not enough new parking spots? What about the hundreds of old ones that have sat there for decades?

All four major condo projects in the Exchange east of Main right now have sufficient on-site parking spaces for its owners. Are condo owners really demanding more on-site parking spots than the average suburban driveway? I doubt it.

These folks should be more honest about their efforts to create more and more publicly-funded parking facilities downtown. Drop the pretense that it is about making downtown more enjoyable for people who use vehicles to live and shop there. This is all about having an overly high (and thus remarkably cheaper) supply of off-street parking spots for people who only drive downtown to sit in their office all day.

There was no mention of finding ways to make the process of paying less byzantine to the casual visitor to downtown (the suburban dweller, the out-of-towner). Nor was there a practical solution that would enhance business conditions and the pedestrian experience: reforming Winnipeg's on-street rush hour parking restrections and the often arbitrary loading zones. But such a simple, low-cost measure doesn't result in ribbon-cutting ceremonies and more funding your particular agency. Worse still, it might end up slowing down the drive home.

Anyway, I just hope these experts can fix the parking problem soon. Downtown might decline if they don't.

Off-street parking spots in downtown Winnipeg, 2006


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