Duncan city council is shooting themselves in the foot with new parking rules for downtown.
Or, they’re shooting some local businesses in the foot, at least.
This week council voted to reduce parking in much of the busiest part of the downtown core from three hours to just 90 minutes.
We understand the reasoning behind this move. Parking in downtown Duncan is a longstanding problem. There is not enough of it and it’s always packed. The idea here is to move people along more quickly, making sure that people who just want to come downtown for a quick trip will be able to find parking. They want to discourage those who are parking in downtown for an entire day from taking up slots.
We think the new 90 minute limit, however, is a mistake.
First, anyone going to a sit-down restaurant usually sets aside at least two hours. This allows people the time for a nice, leisurely meal complete with drinks, appetizers, dessert and coffee. Especially when an establishment is busy, an hour and a half is not going to cut it. People will not want to have to duck out of the restaurant and try to finagle a new parking spot in the middle of their meal. The city specifically references making parking more friendly for folks heading to restaurants as one of the reasons for the new limits. They’ve miscalculated.
Then, ideally, one hopes that these lunchers are strolling around town a little, poking into a few of the eclectic mix of shops that line the streets. This definitely can’t be done in an hour and a half. If people are so busy looking at their watches and know they’re about to get a ticket they will simply decide not to browse the shops. Unless they’re on a mission for something specific, it will likely register as not worth the hassle of trying to move the car.
We think that the new parking times will hurt business downtown, not help it. We know the goal of council is to do the latter. It’s laudable that they want to do something about parking, but this misses the mark.