Most small towns in Nova Scotia have had a showdown or two over paid parking. Sometimes it’s about initiating fees at a hospital lot, or charging for prime spots near a downtown.
But if small towns look at their big city cousins, they’ll see just how bad it can get – and like most things it’ll get worse before it gets better.
The Colliers International annual parking survey reports that Canadian drivers in the metropolitan areas are paying plenty for the privilege, and it’s on the rise. Colliers, a commercial real estate services company, pegged the median rate at $241.72 per month – up from $235.33 over the past year.
Montreal has one of the highest rates at $330.96 a month.
Imagine tacking that fee on top of what it costs you to get back and forth to work. We usually think about what we pay to gas up – a substantial cost these days – but most of us in small town Nova Scotia haven’t been faced with parking fees on a daily workaday basis.
These things, like many others, are based on supply and demand. But should that result in increasing parking areas to cater to more vehicular traffic? Or should it mean using space better in areas that are limited, such as downtowns?
Urban planning has been getting a more critical look in recent years. Canada, with its generally wide-open spaces, wasn’t forced to be miserly when it came to space issues.
But planners are finding now that as municipalities develop, the better value for their citizens is in making the urban cores as dense and compact as is workable. Allow for residential areas closer to downtown, thus enabling more pedestrian traffic and cutting down on the number of vehicles.
Locate more office space, retail and services in the urban core. Build up rather than out.
Smaller towns, obviously, aren’t facing this kind of crunch. At the same time, it pays to keep a similar model in mind in planning future growth. When parking cost becomes an impediment, it’s time to roll out new ideas.