Thursday, September 23, 2010

Parking in Downtown Brantford, views from the North Side and other facts

Over the last week, the local press has pointed out the news regarding parking in downtown Brantford. A little over a week ago, a consultant's reported came out informing the city that the time of free parking needs to come to an end.

The reason for this is due to the fact that parking spaces are needed in the future and so pay and park method would generate the income to develop the new spaces. There was parking metres at one time, but it was decided about ten years ago, as I read the article, things were so bad it was agreed to bring in free parking to bring people back to the downtown. Everything was going wrong, I suppose and the hope was that by offering free parking, people would consider coming downtown, rather then going to the Mall or to Wal-Mart where free parking is the name of the game.

Why the change? Read this:
Mayor Mike Hancock recalled that the meters were pulled from use in a time when the economy was suffering and the downtown was desperate to attract business.
In the heyday of the city's downtown, Hancock said, "You wanted to make sure nobody stayed too long."
That changed with the downturn, only to rebound when Laurier Brantford and new business began to revitalize the core.
"Things have changed again with the advent of the university," the mayor said. "Once again, it's important to control people not staying too long on the streets."

I can imagine some people reading that statement are probably doubling over in laughter, revitalized business? Over the last year business has pulled out even more, and with the demolition of the South Side, what business that was there has moved out of the Downtown. I could say some things about the University and what it is doing to the downtown, but I will stay my words.

I find it interesting that a consultant was needed to bring this to the attention of the City. I say this, since it was mentioned in the Transportation Parking Study of April 2008. To quote:
• On-street parking should be managed as a public resource with pricing and supply
management attempting to balance equity and ensure full-cost pricing.
• No employee (i.e. commuter) should receive free daily on-street parking where parking is in high demand.
• On-street parking regulations should be strictly and consistently enforced to prevent abuse and to reduce the number of tickets issued over the longer term.
At the present, none of these principles are being met in Downtown Brantford. In particular, the fact that on-street parking is free in the Downtown is a major limitation to the achievement of the first two principles. The fact that on-street parking spaces are full by 9:00 AM is a sign that these spaces are being sought by downtown employees wanting to avoid paying for parking. Although the 2 hour time restrictions are in place to help prevent longer term parking, the City does not presently have the tools to efficiently enforce these restrictions. For example, the City currently uses a tire chalking approach to enforce time restrictions, which is quite labour intensive and difficult to enforce. While hand-held computers can aid in the enforcement of time limits, with free parking people will continue to abuse on-street parking.
Implementation of on-street parking pricing, through meters or pay-and display technologies, is essential for ensuring the efficient use of on-street parking as the Downtown develops. It is to be expected that some Downtown businesses will not be in favour of paid parking, due to the fact that most of the shopping options in the rest of Brantford offer free parking. However, most downtowns have realized that the benefits of charging for parking in terms of increased turnover greatly outweighs the potential for lost customers. An added benefit is that revenues from on-street parking can be used to support other downtown initiatives such as improved signage and streetscaping.

I do wonder if the Consultant firm used the Master Plan as part of their research. Sure would have saved money. It's no wonder Scott Adams pokes so much fun at consultants in Dilbert:

I know: "that's not fair".

Fortunately, the City Fathers decided to reject the report. The status quo will remain, at least until the next council takes office. I can understand the present body not wanting to deal with it, what with the possible turn-over of people that may take place.

I think its safe to assume that the Downtown is still has a way to go before it can be considered healthy. I know there is much said with the growth of the University and the fact that people are coming and living in the core. The problem with this point is, the University population is by its nature transient. Students are only here for 8 months, if that long. The University has brought a number of positive changes to the core, but there is a need for diversity- things such as good and reasonably priced housing, more retail and a pedestrian friendly area.

I've already wrote about this, and I will in the future.

In other thoughts. I was walking along the north side of Colborne Street and noticed I had a view of the Casino and Civic Centre:

I thought how wonderful it was and then I read the paper:
Residents finally can enjoy an "exciting" vista on the lower part of the city with the demolition of the remaining three buildings on the south side of downtown Colborne Street.

Okay. We can see the vista, plus the rubble of the buildings and that is a good thing? I would say something sarcastic, but I can't. I recall getting a letter asking me to explain what the purpose of buying 'book rack holders' for? I tried to saying something, but everything I could think of came out sarcastic.

Other news and this is good. The Murdoch Mysteries came back to Brantford. It's a good series. They seem to like Brantford. It seems they like the heritage buildings that have been preserved. You can make money from heritage buildings.

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