City can lead the way in solving parking puzzle

Parking spots should be sold in seldom used corners of downtown.

I can’t blame the City of Trail for expressing its ongoing concern over the parking issue in downtown.

With new development, the revitalization, markets, new walking bridge and the upcoming Riverfront Centre, it’s no wonder the city is worried about a parking crunch.

And I agree the first course of action is to remind the people who work downtown to help alleviate the problem by parking in lots rather than the spaces in front of businesses.

I am fortunate enough to walk to work 99 per cent of the time so the parking issue isn’t one that impacts me.

But I see it everyday day when I walk through downtown on my way to work.

How can so many parking spots be filled that early in the morning? No need to answer that one, it’s obvious.

Talking to some business owners, they contradict the message that parking is actually an issue.

So before leaning on the people that work downtown, the city could also look at the bigger parking picture that impacts more than local businesses.

I’ve always questioned the wisdom of allowing monthly parking passes to be sold for spots right along the Esplanade.

Those are some of the prime tourist parking spots in the city – along the river, close to the Skywalk and soon the Riverfront Centre.

If you’re a visitor to this town, what better place to park, stretch your legs and get enticed to start walking around. You’ll see the river, you’ll see the bridge, the museum and then explore.

But those spots are reserved. Presumably for people who work downtown.

If the city still wants to sell monthly parking spots, they should be selling spots in seldom used corners of downtown.

How about along Pine Ave. instead? Surely one side of that street could be used for reserved parking instead of along the Esplanade

I agree with Mayor Mike Martin that Groutage Avenue could serve as a better parking area.

Clean up the dirt road in that area, and it would help enhance the entrance to the Skywalk.

For that matter how about near Butler Park? There are no games during the day and it would encourage downtown employees to take the Skywalk to work. Just remind them they have to move their vehicles by 5 p.m. or risk having a baseball in their windshield.

We’ve built a beautiful bridge in our city, this might be a way to take even more advantage of such a great landmark.

Extrapolate that even further and it might help support some businesses in East Trail if it was part of your daily route home.

It would ease congestion over the Victoria St. Bridge, especially when Emcon is at work or worse, during an accident.

Of course, I realize crossing that bridge during a cold snap, such as the day the Skywalk opened last December, might not be ideal for some people. So entice them by making the passes even cheaper that spots downtown.

However, finding a solution to parking isn’t easy. You have to change people’s thinking and habits.

Too many of us are used to parking right at our work’s front door and not thinking twice about it. That’s one of the small town perks we enjoy compared to big city residents.

But if parking really is an issue, then the city has to lead the way in change.

People balked at the thought of a four-way stop on Bay Ave and Farwell St. Now it’s just normal.

If the city wants to get people to park in the Cominco lot, then maybe they have to sell them on the idea.

Entice them with a free parking day once a week or something to get them to change their usual habit.

There are a few options out there but hoping the people will just migrate towards the main parking lot like wildebeest isn’t going to happen.

Allow only limited parking spots in downtown until after 10 a.m., that way employees are at work and have spent their toonie in the main lot for the day. Increase the parking fines for those who still flout the initiative.

Expecting people to just change overnight is wishful thinking. Some may abide temporarily but people eventually return to old habits during the first rain storm.

The city needs to act sooner than later, like with parking by Groutage Ave., to have people on board in time for the Skywalk and Riverfront Centre to become the downtown attractions we want and need them to be.

Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times.

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