Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Plug the parking mania

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Most condos in the Exchange District have a space for one car, but parking remains a significant challenge to encouraging people to abandon the suburbs and move downtown.

Some Exchange residents have complained about losing their on-street parking passes, but only a few of them had no other parking options. As with people in the suburbs, they wanted the right to park on the street, or invite friends and relatives to their homes with the promise of available parking.

They will still be able to park for free on the street overnight, but their options will be fewer and farther from their homes. It will also cost them $100 per month for a permit, compared to just $25 a year now, but that's life in the big city.

The Exchange District is bustling with activity day and night, but on-street parking must be shared between residents and businesses that depend on parking turnover to draw customers. The balance will never be perfect, but it must be as fair as possible to all.

The city, however, has not done its part to ease the problem. When the Civic Centre parkade adjacent to city hall closed one year ago because of structural problems, 450 stalls were lost to civic workers and the general community, which compounded the congestion.

City council has no plan yet to rebuild the parkade, but the recent complaints should be enough to get the issue back on the agenda. The fact the Winnipeg Police Service is moving to another location is not an excuse to do nothing.

The province should also reconsider its opposition to building a parkade in co-operation with the city in the East Exchange until a new condo complex goes up nearby. The parkade is needed now, even if developers aren't ready to construct another condo immediately.

The Winnipeg Parking Authority is looking at developing parking co-ops where stalls could be shared by different users, a good idea that is long overdue.

The city, meanwhile, should reconsider a plan to hand out cash incentives to condo buyers, and invest that money in the amenities that make up a vibrant downtown neighbourhood -- good lighting, safety, public art and parking.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 2, 2013 A10

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