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Editorial: Prepare for paid parking

Some realities are inevitable but bitter nonetheless.

Last week, Jasper Municipal Council decided to implement paid parking.

There are a few caveats though. It will be a pilot project that can be adjusted based on what works and what rubs too many people the wrong way.

Administration also needs to first present a plan for the pilot project along with one for public consultation.

In short, don’t expect parking meters to grow out of the ground just yet.

There are legitimate concerns about paid parking, such as visitor parking extending into residential areas and foot traffic decreasing for downtown businesses.

The timing of the rollout may also be suboptimal, considering all those who are now struggling due to COVID.

However, the benefits of paid parking outweigh the downsides. It would likely help decrease traffic congestion, provide the local government with another revenue stream and shift the financial burden of this service from ratepayers more onto visitors.

But should locals have to pay for parking as well? Perhaps those with a resident or work pass could be let off the hook, or paid parking could only come into effect during the summer months. At the very least, exemptions should be given to the elderly and disabled.

Back in August 2020, several companies presented to council on what forms paid parking could take. Rather than traditional meters, users could pay through stations or more flexible means such as by phone or website.

Users could get reminder texts about when their parking is about to expire, while hotels could offer to purchase parking spots for guests, perhaps covering the expense through room rates or offering to eat the cost as a perk.

The potential manifestations for paid parking are numerous, and whichever shoe is the perfect fit could not only minimize the sting of this fee but may even make paid parking an asset for the community.

Like the much-debated provincial sales tax, paid parking is bitter medicine. Nobody likes to be nickeled and dimed, but someone has to pay.

If that’s the case, we might as well opt for no hidden cost and look at this straight in the eye.

Peter Shokeir

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