Published: October 18, 2017
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
Last week municipal councilors used two very dirty words. The verbiage used raised eyebrows and elicited at least one gasp, which was followed by contemplative silence by all.
The offensive phrase? Parking meters (shutter)
On Oct. 10 municipal staff presented a recommendation to remove the two-hour parking restrictions on a section of Howey Street. The rationale being the spots identified was used mostly by non-patron businesses. Translation: people who are required to spend their time in court are being ticketed for over parking and the staff wanted to do something to assist in what is already an inconvenient day for many.
A positive though and action, if only the proposal received more than a few seconds of consideration. Instead the bulk of the conversation centred on the area between the lights and the Lakeview and “violators” of the two-hour rule. Should the area be patrolled more, should the time allotted for parking be reduced even further, should parking meters be installed. A discussion I expect was worthy of being had a few years ago, but now, is it really necessary?
A few years ago while discussing economic development in the community I asked what I thought was a decent question – What is the plan to revitalize downtown Red Lake? The answer put forth at the time was in the form of another question – Where is downtown Red Lake? And it’s a thought worth contemplating. With the business sector now spread out across the municipal footprint, Howey Street has become more of an office park or a service delivery hub than a busy shopping centre. Which means those parking in the area are mostly employees of service providers, clients visiting those locations, or residents moving in and out to quickly grab their mail.
Which also leads to another question – is parking at your employment a right or a privilege? Having lived in the city and worked for both government and private enterprise I can say with experience parking in general is a privilege and quite often a perk of management. The rest of the workforce would be required to figure out how to get themselves to work on their own time and on their own dime.
However we are a rural area with communities without public transportation and walking or riding into work can mean for some miles and miles of narrow, non-pedestrian friendly highway. So although a privilege, bringing your vehicle to work is an expectation and with that comes the further expectation of having somewhere to park. Whose responsibility is it to ensure adequate space and access brings the argument further.
So where does that leave us, oh yeah parking meters (shutter) are these really necessary within the Municipality and if considered for Howey Street should they be implemented for other areas? Or should we look at providing access to public transportation and/or safer ways to travel around the municipality on foot or on wheels to reduce the number of cars on our streets that require parking thereby reducing our carbon footprint and increasing the health of our residents?
Whatever your opinions don’t tell me. Tell your elected officials.