I don’t normally curse aloud at inanimate objects, but I make an exception for the new parking meter at the Hudson Avenue lot by the movie theatre.
When I drop my toonie into that machine, and hear its grating canned computer voice, an expletive or two tends to slip from my mouth. (I do make sure no one’s around to hear.)
Needless to say, the recent move by the city, and its parking commission, to eliminate the last of Salmon Arm’s free, day-long parking options in the downtown core doesn’t sit well with me. Working downtown has become a luxury I have to pay for, and the cost of parking an addition to our already burdensome “sunshine tax.”
I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
When the Hudson lot was free, I used to see a plenty of downtown employees there in the morning, heading from their vehicle to restaurants, insurance, tax and accounting offices, retailers and, yes, newspapers too. I don’t see them anymore. The number of vehicles parked there in the morning has dropped from an average of 50 to 60, to about 15.
Fact is, not a lot of jobs downtown pay too well, and there are employees (and possibly employers) for whom the free parking option was, and continues to be a need.
I’ve heard the reasoning for the change – to help fund a future parkade. I’ve also heard it said that parking in Salmon Arm is cheap, and have been asked in what other municipality can you park all day for free? To that, I looked to our neighbours.
The District of Sicamous offers free, daylong parking at its waterfront for single vehicles, as well as vehicles and trailers. This is quite substantial given how busy that area is in the summer.
The City of Revelstoke offers three blocks of free, 24-hour parking in their vibrant downtown core. Even the City of Vernon currently offers free daylong parking in the downtown area at the recreation centre and the civic arena, in addition to a number of streets that support free parking for varying terms. The city is now considering paid options for the recreation facilities as there can be conflicts when they are in use for events, etc. But we’re talking a city with a population of more than 38,000 that still offers free daylong parking downtown, as well as free two- and four-hour options.
Apples and oranges?
We have a smaller population but similar parking needs – including the needs of shoppers, tourists and the working folk who provide services for the lot.
Eventually, I’ll suck up the cost of a $25 monthly parking pass for the Hudson lot, as for me, a motor vehicle is a job requirement. Parking there continues to be free during the spring and Christmas breaks, and throughout July and August (I have yet to confirm if pass-holders have to pay for those months). That should stop my cursing at the meter, though I expect it will still receive some resentful glares.