Editorial: The parking paradox

The issue of parking in downtown Duncan is once again rearing its complicated head.

The City has decided to penalize the prolific offenders, those who don’t seem to mind paying the $20 fine on the occasions when they haven’t been able to slip under the radar. Apparently there are between 20 and 30 people who fall into that category.

Council has decided the answer is to increase the ticket for a second offence to $50 and $75 for a third offence.

It seems it will be a bit of a chore to keep track of who qualifies for the bonus rounds, and hopefully it will be possible to target those who offenders who blatantly ignore the parking rules. Often, those people are business owners and their staff.

The worst case scenario would be for faithful downtown shoppers to wind up on the expensive side of a parking ticket and begin to question the wisdom of shopping in downtown Duncan.

Managing parking is complicated.

A few years ago, North Cowichan spent about $10,000 to study the parking situation in Chemainus.

What they concluded was what everybody already knew: there are times when parking is at a premium and shoppers have to circle the block once or twice and often wind up walking further than they would like. (Ironically, shopping mall visitors don’t seem to mind trudging a quarter of a mile to shop at a big box store)

The study also confirmed that for most of the time, parking was readily available.

Sadly, two or three years later, parking was no longer an issue. For various reasons, shoppers were no longer drawn to the main drag in the numbers they once were and there was ample parking downtown … a situation that continues to this day.

Be careful what you wish for.

Duncan has a vibrant, successful downtown core. Tampering with the parking regulations could threaten that viability if not handled properly.

City council’s action is well-intentioned and could help the situation, but it should be closely monitored over the next year.

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