Yay! The splash pad in front of City Hall is officially open, and on the first week of summer, with sky high temperatures, it was proverbial kismet. The timing was either karmic or shrewd depending on who we thank for it. With such a wonderful, and refreshing, addition to downtown, who could possibly be angry?
If you said the merchants of Carden Street, you must be psychic. Not enough to be front row centre in one of the busiest new areas in town, and not enough to have survived the long drought of over five-years of construction, but now people are parking in their spaces in front of their stores because they're using the facilities in front of City Hall. Quelle horreur. How is someone expected to run a business when people can't park directly in front of the place?
It would be unfair to say that the concerns of the Carden Street merchants are unfounded, and they have put up with a lot in the last couple of years, but there's something to the psychology of parking that I don't understand. Is it so important for the proper functioning of commerce downtown that the spaces directly in front of shops and restaurants must be in constant rotation? That's not the case at the mall where sometimes you have to park at one end despite the fact that you're only going to one store at the opposite end.
Or maybe it's that street level parking is free for two hours downtown? Why pay for the milk when you can park the cow for free? Or whatever.
From my own unscientific observations of parking patterns in the downtown, I always see at least a couple of open spaces in Baker Street and Wilson Street lots during the day, and several open spots on the first level alone of the west parkade at Old Quebec Street. Outside of special events, I've never seen that lot anywhere near full, but the thing about putting your car there is you have to pay. Again, quelle horreur.
I recall an incident last autumn as I walked across Wyndham Street North heading for the Baker Street by cutting through the parking lot. A man pulled up and parked in front of the old post office. He got out and asked me where Carden Street was. I pointed straight down Wyndham and told him it was at the last set of lights before the bridge. He thanked me and moved to get back into his car. I told him that he'd be better off leaving his car parked here and walking the two minutes down the street to Carden, but he said that he'd take his chances.
Now what can we learn from this tragic tale? People are lazy, which is simplistic, but I think that's still part of the problem. But the more I write the more I'm convinced that part of it's thrift; people want cheap/free parking. And that's why no one complains (much) about the walking distance from car to mall, even in the winter.
And speaking of winter, do you know what story I see on the news every Christmas? How the malls are so busy there's not enough parking. Parking, you see, is a matter of volume: the more people want it, the less there is. There will never be enough parking if demand is high enough. So you can be cheap, or you can be lazy, but you can't do both at the same time. At least when it comes to parking.