Editorial: Meter parking makes cents

People should have no problem finding parking anywhere in Nanaimo.

City council received a staff report last week regarding a downtown parking strategy, and the report contains sensible recommendations.

The document was compiled in response to requests the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association made earlier this year. The BIA asked for more meters, plus free parking in parkades, to try to free up spaces on downtown streets.

City staff is recommending more parking meters, increased parking fees and free parking only at one parkade. The city calculates that the extra quarters and loonies it charges will add up to $875,000 per year. That money wouldn’t go into general revenue, but would rather go toward maintenance and construction of parking facilities and benefit taxpayers that way.

Basically the city would be nickel-and-diming people who want to drive their vehicles downtown. Parking will still be inexpensive, and those who can afford the price of gas, insurance and car payments these days won’t balk at 50 cents here, a dollar there for parking.

We’re not sure that merchants are correct in their conclusion that parking is a perceived problem downtown, but if installing more meters bring them peace of mind, then let’s do it. Even if we’re correcting a problem that doesn’t exist, we might be making proactive improvements to parking infrastructure.

More expensive parking rates also seem to align with the municipality’s transportation master plan. The move won’t have an immediate impact, but with time and inflation, it might eventually push a few residents out of their cars and get them walking, cycling and busing.

There are signs that downtown revitalization is working in Nanaimo. We hope people will keep going there in droves, and that when they do, they’ll never have to drive around and around, looking for a place to park.

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