Thursday July 31, 2014





Gilchrist: Parking changes for the better

There are some universally accepted truths that can apply to the new downtown parking plan:

1. People don’t like change.

2. No one likes paying more for something, especially if we can get the same thing for free somewhere else.

3. New machines can be confusing.

Basically, we have complex, busy lives and desire some parts of our days to be achievable with mindless simplicity.

Having to devote mental space to something that used to be simple (drive up, walk to parking meter beside car, evaluate how much time is needed, plug in coins, try to remember to get back in time to avoid a parking ticket) will be a little more complex.

But only at first.

After that, walking a couple extra steps to a parking kiosk and entering our licence plate number will become just another task in the day.

Parking kiosks can already be found in other city lots and at the airport, and they’re not tough to operate.

After time, the positive features the new kiosks allow — being able to park for longer than two hours and the ability to pay by coin, credit card or via a smartphone — will make us forget about how it used to be. Like how bank machines and online banking have saved valuable time previously spent going to the bank and waiting in line to see a teller.

Knowing we have to pay more for parking while shopping downtown might also be a slight irritation at first, but we had it so cheap for so long. There hasn’t been a parking increase in Kamloops since 1994. What other good or service has not gone up in 19 years?

And it will be possible to park for free with the new system — businesses will be able to offer
it to their customers.

As receipts can be issued from the new parking kiosks, a business can choose to reimburse patrons and the paper trail will allow them to claim it as a write-off. Offering free parking becomes a bonus for both client and business.

There will be some people who will avoid downtown for a while, either to avoid dealing with the change or in general protest. That should translate into extra parking spaces for the rest of us in the meantime, but it will be short-lived.

There are unique stores and restaurants downtown, fun events to attend like the farmers market once spring arrives, and an ambiance and liveliness that can’t be found in any mall.

Patronizing downtown means you can get your hair cut, shop for shoes, grab a coffee and buy a few groceries, all within walking distance, so it’s green, too.

If your plans take longer than two hours, the new technology will allow parkers to add a third hour without even returning to the car, just update by smartphone.

Then if one decided to shop a bit more, followed by dinner and a movie, parkers will be able to move to a different spot and pay for up to another three hours, according to City community safety enforcement manager Jon Wilson.

I just don’t get all the fuss over the proposed changes. Ultimately, the system will be for the better.

Tracy Gilchrist is city editor at The Daily News. Reach her at tgilchrist@kamloopsnews.ca.


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