EDITORIAL: Parking habits hard to break

Victoria's on-street parking will soon become a convenience for which drivers pay extra

Humans are creatures of convenience and habit – especially when it comes to driving. We all have our routine routes to get us to and from work, and we all get a little bit flustered when someone parks in our usual spot.

So with the City of Victoria reviewing its downtown parking model, we feel the need to stress that people don’t instinctively like change. Even if the changes are generally good.

And the recommendations that city staff have put forward are generally good. People will make a fuss about the proposals to charge for on-street parking in the evenings or to charge more to park near parkades, but these changes aren’t necessarily tax grabs, they’re disincentives.

The idea is that Victoria wants more drivers to use parkades as opposed to street parking. The changes aim to promote quicker turnover of the on-street stalls.

It’s already cheaper to use a parking garage than a metered stall, but either most drivers don’t know this or the cost savings aren’t yet enough of an incentive to use the parkades.

If getting more people into the nearly 1,900 stalls in parking garages is the end goal, then widening the gap between convenience and cost savings is the right way to go – and that’s what these proposed changes do. On-street stalls can no longer be seen simply as another parking option, but rather luxury parking where you pay for the convenience to use a primo spot.

And they’re not just widening that gap by raising costs; also proposed is a decrease in hourly and daily rates in the parkades.

If Victoria decides later this year to change the downtown parking model, then the public education component of implementation will be crucial.

Even staff admit aspects of the existing parking system are “convoluted and difficult to explain.” Throwing a wrench into the status quo will just add to that confusion if people aren’t properly informed. The financial benefits alone should be reason enough to sell most drivers on parkade parking.

If the scale tips in favour of cost savings over convenience for more people who drive into downtown, as Victoria hopes it will, these changes should be a win-win for the city and for those drivers willing to change their habits.

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