The Times-Colonist here in Victoria editorializes that “charging for night and Sunday parking [is] an idea the city would be very wise to drop,” because of the recent increases in parking rates related to the HST. The paper argues that increasing prices for parking and the amount of time motorists are charged for doing so will encourage shoppers to go malls where parking is free instead of coming downtown, and that this will be bad for business in the core. A spokesman for the Downtown Victoria Business Association is quoted as saying, “We need the partnership of the city to make sure downtown remains on a level field [with malls].” To me, this sounds like an argument for charging for parking at both malls and on downtown streets/parkades, perhaps via amalgamation so the city can implement parking bylaws applicable to parking lots at suburban malls, as well as streets and downtown parkades. (Although I’ve never really understood why the city is in the parking business to begin with.) As Todd Litman points out, “efficient parking pricing can provide numerous benefits including increased turnover and therefore improved user convenience, parking facility cost savings, reduced traffic problems, and increased revenues.” Maybe the Times-Colonist should consider the benefits of not subsidizing car drivers with free parking (which isn’t actually free), before suggesting increasing the subsidy everybody provides to them. Downtown could actually be a nicer, more convenient place to shop if parking were priced more efficiently.
Update: The Times Colonist is reporting that Mayor Dean Fortin is backing council away from even considering implementing pay parking on Sundays, because the Chamber of Commerce is opposed to it. I feel frustrated, although not surprised, that the Chamber of Commerce is dictating city policy.