New parking guides are attracting backlash on social media and mixed views on the streets, with some claiming they add confusion instead of clarity.
The new colour-coded guides are now being tested out on the backs of some Exchange District sign poles, with a timetable grid that highlights times parking is available in green and when it’s not allowed in red. A legend provides additional written instructions and defines symbols on paid parking hours, no-stopping times and snow-zone rules, among other restrictions.
A few folks who spotted the new information on King Street Monday had opposing views of the pilot project guides, which add to (but aren’t set to replace) existing street-facing parking signs.
Hassan Hawash said he found they lacked some key info, such as current parking rates.
"Overall, I think there is a lack of clarity," he said.
However, Devang Patel said he thinks the guides are straightforward and easy to read.
"It’s bigger, it’s clear, that’s good for people," he said.
On social media, the guides attracted ample criticism, with some deeming it a "fail" or needlessly complex. Some commenters claimed drivers would need a magnifying glass to read some of the font, while others debated different interpretations of the paid parking hour information.
That confusion appeared heightened by a widespread belief the guides would eventually replace the current street-facing parking signs. However, the city notes they’re actually meant to add to street signs instead.
Matthew TenBruggencate posted a picture on social media of a parking guide that attracted more than 200 comments.
TenBruggencate said he’s personally still assessing the guide but believes the city must make it as easy as possible for drivers to visit the Exchange District.
"This really just shows how complicated the parking rules are and that’s what needs to be addressed," he said.
TenBruggencate said a concern that the mostly green and red chart could pose new challenges for those who are colour-blind must be addressed. However, he suspects some complaints may reflect pandemic exhaustion among many Winnipeggers.
"I think it’s a bit of a stress release for people… to use this as a punching bag," he said.
The Exchange District isn’t the city’s only source of parking confusion in recent years. In 2016, for example, many Winnipeggers complained that while small pay-station stickers noted two hours of free parking are offered on Saturdays, hundreds of drivers didn’t notice that deal and paid anyway.
Exchange District parking improvements were sought following years of complaints from some drivers, who noted some of those spots are governed by at least four parking signs.
David Pensato, executive director of the Exchange District BIZ, previously told the Free Press he’s heard of drivers feeling so bewildered about parking in the area that they sometimes decided not to stop at all.
On Monday, Pensato urged drivers who view the new guides up close after actually parking to share their input, to ensure the city gets the best feedback possible.
"Seeing the context of it really makes a big difference," he said.
Ajaleigh Williams, a program manager at the Winnipeg Parking Authority, noted the guides posted on the backs of parking poles would complement, not replace, existing street-facing signs that display parking regulations. The city is exploring options to update the street-facing signs as well, but does not currently have the required provincial approval to make changes, she said.
Williams stressed feedback on the pilot project, which will be collected until July 31, will help determine if this particular parking guide becomes a permanent fixture. If the guides aren’t found to improve the parking experience, the city could alter them or test out a new option, she said.
"If they don’t meet that objective, we’ll certainly take that under consideration," said Williams.
The colour-coded design was meant to prove eye-catching after drivers exit their vehicles, making it easy to scan quickly, she said. However, Williams said feedback from those who struggle to see certain colours will be carefully considered.
Coun. Vivian Santos, whose Point Douglas ward includes the Exchange District, said she believes the graphics and bilingual writing on the signs offer improvement, while feedback can enhance the final design.
"Change is hard and that’s why we’re trying to do the pilot project to get that feedback," said Santos.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.