As a member of the downtown parking solutions working group and someone who has long advocated for evidence based parking strategies in Kamloops, I know many might be wondering why I voted against the downtown parking study proposed by city staff at the Nov 7th 2017 council meeting. I know my friend and Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association (KCBIA) President Mike O’Reilly, for one, was extremely disappointed.
I owe Mike and many others an explanation for my vote.
First, in my experience on council, while we definitely talk about alternative transportation and have invested greatly in transit, parking issues seem to get more priority. I feel this needs to change. I think parking is very important but it has to be seen in the larger context of all the different modes of transportation downtown. We need to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, the amount of people driving to, from, or within downtown in a single occupancy vehicle. This has many benefits - environmental, health, and economic. This also is really a challenging cultural shift to make.
We need to have evidence based information on parking but we also, critically, have to work to engage people in the conversation of alternatives to driving or driving alone. I didn’t see that reflected enough in the parking study proposal presented.
Second, the $100 000 ceiling for the parking study seemed really high to me. The “on the ground” work here is relatively basic. The larger expenditure seemed to be related to the coordination of the work. I understand the money for the study does not come from tax dollars but comes from parking fees collected. I still think we could do this study for less money. I want to state that I might be missing something. Maybe I needed to see more detail as to the workplan and tasks involved in a $100 000 parking study.
So, where does this leave the quest for an evidence based downtown parking study. I think we need to ensure we take a more coordinated approach and that we communicate that to the community. I also feel we should look at lesser cost options for the study. I really need to understand the reasons behind the costs. I think this exercise would get me to a place where funding the study would gain my support.