Opinion: Central city winter parking solution needed

I’ve been debating on Twitter about the pros and cons of having some free off-street parking in the central city as the businesses in town get back on their feet.

This was sparked by a news article that said commuters had started using this for all-day parking for work.

I was gobsmacked that this had happened, because for me the priority had to be turnover of parks.

I was very keen for the no-charging regime that had applied over the lockdown to continue until we had a winter policy in place. I have always been clear that time limits should be enforced.

Twitter told me we needed to reverse this pronto, because if we make parking free we just encourage more people off bikes and buses, into cars. They said it would make sense to improve cycling and buses (such as a free shuttle), but that’s a matter for Environment Canterbury.

I made the point that it’s winter, buses can’t run to capacity, and if we want more people to come back into town, we need to make it easy.

The city centre was just coming right when the Covid-19 crisis hit.

In the past, a one-hour free parking offer was successful in encouraging more people into the city centre. Re-introducing something like that on a short-term basis could stimulate more activity in the central city over winter.

Even though I’m just one voice around the table, I hope it’s enough to stress the importance of finding a temporary solution for our city businesses until we get a proper parking policy in place. A fully integrated, cheap, reliable and fast public transport system would help too, but that’s another story.

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