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Parking parked for now
Some might say saner heads prevailed, others (Mayor Shari Green) lamented the council has only delayed the inevitable.
The bottom line is that council responded to the community’s concerns about pay parking and shelved the controversial and expensive plan.
There were a couple of things that surfaced throughout this debate that was heated, controversial, and, in the end, healthy for the community.
One thing that surfaced was a dismissal of the old saying that “you can’t fight city hall.”
Council almost approved the pay parking plan back in July when it first came before council, but pressure from the Downtown Business Improvement Association, the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, and the public in general prompted council to step back and gather more information.
Not surprisingly, except perhaps to council, was the fact that were other, better, and less expensive ideas about how to deal with parking than what city staff had recommended. Granted, council has to listen to and trust the recommendations from city staff, but they should also listen to what the public has to say.
One of the things that the public told council was that some city services aren’t designed to be revenue generators for the city.
That was one of the fundamental flaws in finance committee chair Cameron Stolz’s approach when he started pushing this idea. He saw it as a way to make money rather than a way to deal with, as Coun. Lyn Hall pointed out, a five-block area downtown that has congestion.
The public saw through that immediately and, eventually, so did council who are tasked with balancing the books so the prospect of more revenue is understandably appealing.
One of the other most incredulous revelations throughout this entire exercise is the realization that, for some reason, Prince George is either unable, or unwilling, to actually enforce parking regulations.
Who could blame anyone now from simply tossing a parking ticket when they get one.
The city won’t tow and if you don’t pay it doesn’t seem like they can, or will, collect either.
It’s astounding to think that a huge amount of money owed in fined sits uncollected.
There’s your cash cow.
In the end, pay parking has been shelved but it doesn’t mean the status quo will remain indefinitely.
Parking rules will eventually change, including a willingness to tow.
If council decides to involve the DBIA, Chamber of Commerce, and other downtown interests, the final decision will be a good one.