Just a quick note. While reading up on Business Improvement Districts I've noticed that many of them manage downtown parking spaces and even build new parking facilities. Of course, the idea is not to generate revenue but rather to provide shoppers and workers with access to the downtown (which brings up another issue which I see being debated in the newspapers - how the City uses downtown parking revenues). This makes some sense, and it got me thinking about downtown YK parking in general.
I don't know if the City has taken a look, recently, at parking trends in other cities. We have workers and shoppers competing for the same parking spots. These are two distinct groups with very different needs. What I've noticed in many BC towns is that you have free 1-hour parking, intended for shoppers, all along main street and maybe within a quarter block of main street, on the intersecting streets. Then, starting at the quarter block, you have parking meters, intended for office workers.
Cities place time limits on their parking meters for some reason that escapes me. All the limits do is force people to leave work, run to their cars and plug the meter five times a day. In Vancouver the meters do have two hour limits, but they also display a phone number that you can call, from wherever, to extend your parking time by using your credit card. The phone system is automated - you punch in the meter number, then your card number and voila! When the parking attendant spots an expired meter he looks up the parking meter number on his little handheld device. This tells him if the vehicle owner called in the parking fee.
The automated system will even text vehicle owners to tell them when their time is about to run out. This is so much more low tech than those fancy new digital parking meters that you see in other cities. Low-tech is good for the great white north (where else but in YK have you ever seen an insulated parking machine like the one at the airport?). But as well as being low-tech and probably cheap, it is super convenient for office workers. So, shoppers get free parking close to main street stores and office workers walk slightly farther than the shoppers, but they only have to do it once. Win, win.
Another quick parking note - in Nanaimo I came across a parkade model that would work well for YK. You build a two level (one level that's sort of half a step down from street level, the other half a step up) concrete parkade that uses regular parking meters (with the same phone-in system). The parkade is uncovered and unheated. It only takes up one city lot, and because it's only one and a half stories above ground, and has no roof, it ends up blending in quite nicely. Because these parkades don't have roofs the city can landscape, plant trees, etc.
Parking is going to become a serious issue once we convince developers to build up the downtown. We should start knocking around ideas now.