Are there enough parking spaces in the Halifax area? Yes, says review
'There is parking downtown. It's people's perception of parking that is a challenge'
The transportation committee in Halifax Regional Municipality is putting the brakes on a myth believed by many of the city's drivers.
The committee says there are enough parking spaces to meet demand.
Parking has been a hotly debated topic at city hall since 2014. But Thursday, a report presented to the committee showed that at no time were the busy areas at capacity.
"There is parking downtown," said Coun. Sam Austin. "It's people's perception of parking that is a challenge."
The report assessed parking options in 2017.
Range of vacancies
It showed a range of vacancies — from 60 per cent usage of the spaces in the Quinpool Road area to 95 per cent in the downtown.
The problem, it appears, is that people either aren't willing to park a few blocks away or they don't realize that there are more options nearby.
Austin said it's all about changing perceptions.
He points out that there are few complaints when people have to park at the back of a lot to visit a big box store.
"The same is true in the urban environment. You might not have that space right in front of the front door. You might have to walk a block or two."
Signs part of the problem
Austin said the parking debate came up last week while he was attending a meeting of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission. The report found that, on average, only 72 per cent of the spots in that area are in use.
He believes the issue there is that there are no signs directing people to the three lots nearby.
"You might not know where to find it, particularly if you're from out of town."
Coun. Shawn Cleary agrees that it's time to improve the signage.
"We can allay some of the concerns that often come to us about, 'Oh, we need more parking,'" he said. "It's just a matter of changing behaviour."
He said that in Ottawa, both public and private parking areas use the same signage, making availability clear for drivers.
"If we are all together on that it will be easier for customers to find that parking when they go to these places."
One improvement is on the horizon that Austin believes will actually create space.
Pay stations coming
The city is going to replace parking meters with pay stations.
"Rather than having to create a metered spot that fits the largest possible vehicle that you would have parked there, people are more efficient when they sort themselves out," said Austin.
The report does specify that since 2017 development has led to both the creation and elimination of spaces. It recommends the city do an annual review of the options.