Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'd've used a stickers pun, but none were a-peeling

"At the heart of the Parking Authority is a Passion for Parking - an entrepreneurial spirit that values customer service excellence, and the drive to develop public parking services in new, innovative ways." *

"Hughes claims the paystations near his store have been missing the two-hour free parking notices for roughly a year. 'Give me the specs, I'll get them printed and I'll get the staff to put them up. It's a small thing. They're not waiting for a part from Siberia,' he said." *

Power-point buzzwords notwithstanding, this instance effectively demonstrates how the free market works better at achieving a public good most efficiently (ie, in less than a year) than the public bodies charged with doing so.

Aqua Books, which was dragged to the depths of red tape hell by the City when they attempted to open up a bookstore and restaurant in a vacant building on Garry Street (the nerve!), now operates as the biggest, best, most organized used bookstore in the city. Placing stickers on parking metres on Garry Street in front of their store to inform their customers that parking is free on weekends, Aqua Books raised the ire of the Winnipeg Parking Authority.

And while WPA boss David Hill doesn't see forgetting to let motorists know about free weekend parking as a big deal, what is a big deal is someone else doing it for them. Such a big deal, that it warranted Aqua Books recieving allegations of vandalism and bullying from WPA officials.

Meanwhile, Aqua's ostensible allies, the organization they pay tribute money to as a member of the Downtown Business Improvement Zone, shrugged off the issue of a business not waiting around for an ineptly useless "Authority" to improve their business conditions. "This sounds like just a heated discussion, more than anything... I'd hate to see any of my BIZ members charged with doing anything like that. Cooler heads will prevail," offered BIZ Director Stefano Grande to the Free Press. Go get 'em, tiger.

Anyway, under such regulations, downtown Winnipeg has become inhospitable both to the urban resident and the occassional visitor. For the resident, it is wiser to make a weekly commute to a regional shopping centre for errands. Or simply move to Fort Rouge, where one can enjoy an urban life free from all the pointless regulations. For the visitor, the byzantine traffic and parking regulations are too hostile to even bother comprehending. Has anyone ever attempted to park on Donald Street near Graham Avenue (say, to quickly pop in at their local library branch)? One could finish off War and Peace quicker than they could figure out the ridiculous myriad of on-street parking signs. And so, public organizations end up working for people just like themselves: suburbanites who commute by car Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 4:30.

By far, the quickest, most inexpensive and effective way to make downtown a more attractive place for people and money, is to completely de-regulate on-street parking to metred parking across the board (save for loading zones), do away with rush hour parking restrictions, and eliminate one-way traffic on nearly every downtown street. Get governments and public organizations out of the business of parking entirely. The Winnipeg Parking Authority should be dissolved. After all, they have been seeking to "create world class parking operation for a world class city" since 1956: how has downtown Winnipeg fared since then?


Blogger Fat Arse said...

You have hit the proverbial nail (parking meter?) on its rusted head. After 53 years of failing to solve the problem (only to make it worse),the WPA has had its chance - now it should be abolished.

1:55 AM  
Blogger Prairie Topiary said...

I'm no fan of the WPA, but I wonder if abolishing it as part of a plan to get government out of the business of parking might not end up amounting to trading one empire for another. Is IMPARK less bureaucratic and more responsive? Would they have treated Aqua Books any better?

It's shameful the way Aqua Books has been treated by the City from day 1, but I'm not sure if abolishing the WPA is the answer.

10:45 AM  
Blogger lofty said...

The WPA was established in 2005

11:42 AM  
Blogger Dallas said...

What would IMPARK have to do with parking on publicly owned streets?

12:35 PM  
Blogger Prairie Topiary said...

I'm assuming that if, as The Rise and Sprawl proposes, government got out of the parking business entirely and yet metered parking remained, then a private business would be contracted to operate or possibly even own the parking meters on public streets.

IMPARK is an example of the type of company likely to take on such a role -- while they wouldn't necessarily be the contractor or one of the contractors operating the meters, some private parking management company would. The question I'm asking is whether that private company would be a whole lot nicer than the WPA. I'm betting not.

After all, as voters and taxpayers, we have some recourse to protest and demand changes when a City of Winnipeg agency behaves badly or with short-sightedness, as Aqua Books' experience clearly shows. The options aren't a whole lot better when we're talking about a private company whose mandate rightfully has absolutely nothing to do with the betterment of the city overall.

3:00 PM  
Blogger urbandude said...

^ Very good point.

Lets stick to some facts and not emotional opinionated bullshit.

The first thing the private sector will do is double the rates. Do you really want that?

IMPARK is the devil. Ever see the condition of thier lots?

It has taken the city 53 years to screw it up, then it only makes sense to give the new parking agency some time to undo the wrongs. Give them a break already. Shit I ate at Kelly’s store once and the food was crap. I still went back. It was better the second time though. I am glad I gave him a second chance.

Kelly just wanted to get some free media. If he was really concerned all he had to do is phone someone, "hey my sticker is missing". Done. If the parking department does not respond, then go after them. Instead the guy just could not resist.

End of common sense and facts.

God forbid Kelly makes a mistake. Maybe he does not make mistakes!

Christ if it was not for his late brother and family forgiving and helping him, he would still be making mistakes. I think the guy is a hypocrite. He should treat people like he would want to be treated himself.

11:17 PM  
Blogger urbandude said...

and maybe Kelly is treated badly because he treats people badly.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about the City just sell yearly parking passes and you can park where you like ( respecting posted signs ). Parking zones requiring a tag would be clearly marked. Parking areas that have no meters or restrictions would remain as usual.

For out of province visitors, we can be magnanimous and let them park for free.

Way too much energy and resources devoted to this parking issue.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Dallas said...

Save your long-winded musings, fellows. By "deregulating" parking on the street, I think Rob meant making parking free & unrestricted—not handing over enforcement duties to IMPARK.

Cities like Chi, SF, and NYC have street cleaning restrictions once or twice a week, or twice a month (it varies) to ensure cars aren't left abandoned.

12:45 AM  
Blogger urbandude said...

Free and unrestricted downtown parking will only hurt downtowns. There has been much research on this. Its well understood. Unless your downtown is really small like say Selkirk or Portage.

10:56 PM  
Blogger nick said...

I'm not sure how Winnipeg's parking signs are any more "confusing" than any other city's.

A typical lineup of parking signs on a pole in downtown Toronto:


NO PARKING <-- 630 AM - 930 AM MON-FRI

NO STOPPING <--> 330 PM - 630 PM MON-FRI

Pay Parking Enforced
930 AM - 230 PM
630 PM - 9 PM
8 AM - 930 PM
1 PM - 9 PM

A lot of information, but hardly confusing and not much different than you'd find in downtown Winnipeg.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Dallas said...

Really, "urbandude"? Let's see the research.

There should be metered some parking to encourage spot turnover, but every time somebody's towed (it happens everyday) I'm sure they're vowing never to come downtown again if they can avoid it.

Nick, Toronto doesn't make for a good comparison. Their parking authority is insane, and there are restrictions everywhere.

12:24 PM  
Blogger urbandude said...

So then there should be parkling meteres? Which is it?

Parking metres and parking tickets/towing are two seperate issues.

You need metres, And the rules need to be enforced. If not, then why meteres? If there are no meteres, employees gobble up the space and visitors have no where to park. Downotown business then suffers.

Its really that simple.

10:36 PM  

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