The Downtown Victoria Business Association is not against instating street parking fees on Sundays. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

The Downtown Victoria Business Association is not against instating street parking fees on Sundays. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

LETTER: Let’s change the conversation about parking

Take away my convenient car parking – please!

I’m an (occasional) car driver and I want parking to be less convenient. Parking needs to be harder to find, and definitely not free (especially downtown), if we care about the planet and our city.

Easy vehicle parking is the gateway drug for a high carbon society.

It’s a societal addiction.

Our greenhouse gases are not dropping, and transportation is a key reason why. Our streets have ample room for trees and people and transit lanes and scooters and patios and passenger drop-off zones. But we can’t have all that and have ample parking too.

We need to change the conversation about parking. Let’s improve the safety, health and livability of our streets – and not complain when those improvements eliminate car parking, especially downtown.

READ MORE: Downtown Victoria businesses cite parking issues as top challenge

We also need to stop referring to “cyclists” or “motorists” or “walkers” or “transit users.” We are all people and many of us (me included) use all these forms of getting around. Moving around Greater Victoria needs to allow for all modes, while making the low carbon modes the easiest.

We say we believe in lowering our carbon footprint but, irrationally, we don’t want to actually change our car driving behavior. We want to have convenient, low cost parking and lower GHGs too.

It won’t happen.

Parking “drives” car usage – pun intended. If we change parking, we change car usage. People who can’t easily park their vehicle shift to other modes – take a bus, hire a cab, bike, get a friend to drop them off, walk – or some creative combination of the above. I’m one of those people – a car owner, bike owner, transit user, walker. If parking is too cheap and easy, we all use it – and therefore use our cars even when alternatives are available.

Each of us can make personal changes but we get the biggest benefit if we make a community-wide shift away from cars and into healthy, people-friendly street sharing.

Would the intentional reduction of parking be “social engineering”? You bet – the best kind. Social engineering is what broke our growing addiction to cigarette use. Remember when pub owners wailed that anti-smoking bylaws would kill their businesses?

As a community, we should be designing for the healthiest possible city. Less convenient car parking helps get us there.

Lorne Daniel

Victoria

– Lorne Daniel is a Victoria resident who walks, bikes, drives a car, takes transit, and has been a wheelchair user. His work in urban change has won awards from national and international organizations. He is founder of Greater Victoria Placemaking Network.