Suddenly lost in the glare of the arena debate, and word council has to chop almost $1 million more from the town’s 1998 budget if it wants to keep a lid on taxes for the fifth-straight year, is the question of whether 384 parking meters should be re-installed in the downtown core.
Given the budget crunch the town is facing these days, there’s no question the $149,760-$599,040 in revenue the parking meters are estimated to bring in must look pretty tempting to those sitting around the council table--even if they’re split over whether the money should go into general revenue or towards a fund to help alleviate the parking woes on Scott Street.
The conundrum facing council, of course, is whether the revenue generated offsets the downside parking meters pose; specifically, will they drive shoppers away from Scott Street businesses? After all, wasn’t that one of the main reasons why parking meters were removed from there more than 10 years ago?
Furthermore, can the town swallow the cost of re-installing the meters only to turn around and remove them again in a few years because the decision backfired?
But the real question revolves around whether the meters would solve the parking congestion on Scott Street. There’s no question it’s difficult to find a spot at peak times, and there’s no question that business owners and staff are contributing to the problem by taking up spots that should be available for their customers.
Yet local shoppers aren’t entirely blameless, either. Is it really too far to walk from the free parking in the Church Street lot, or the limited free parking in the Portage Avenue one? Must we expect to find a parking spot right in front of the business we’re going to.
Taken in this light, the problem stems more from inconsideration on the part of some businesses, laziness on the part of some motorists, and a lack of enforcement by the town to monitor the two-hour parking limit during business hours.
Cleaning up our act, and coming up with a comprehensive parking scheme to make it easier for tourists to stop on Scott Street during the summer months, must be tackled first before we even consider taking the plunge back to parking meters.