Turning inner space into outer space

March 1, 2011

Parking meters a poor choice for funding parkade

With parking meters you strike a fine balance. The cost has to be high enough that motorists will be encouraged to move on and not hog a space longer than necessary. But it also has to be low enough that drivers will find it an acceptable price pay for shopping downtown.

City councillors find themselves in this bind as they consider whether to raise parking meter rates to pay for a proposed parkade on the edge of Riverside Park. While most people would have no issue with the City using meters to facilitate parking turnover, there might be some fallout with them being used a source of revenue. The streets, after all, do belong to the public.

The other thing councillors have to keep in mind is that if the price of parking downtown becomes too high — or just too much of a nuisance — people will avoid the area and business will suffer. And with fewer businesses, the city’s tax revenue tumbles.

(When I say a nuisance, just think of how you have to remember to keep your car stocked with quarters, and how frustrating it can be to realize as you’re pulling in that your stash is depleted.)

In the end, city council may get away with raising parking meter rates a minimal amount, but it certainly won’t be enough to pay for a parkade. It seems more a sign of desperation than anything else that council is even considering this move.