I admit it: when I read about the city's proposal to standardize curbside parking rates across the city, I assume the Hamilton Spectator would shortly issue an editorial that made some conciliatory noises but ultiamately came out against the idea on pragmatic grounds.
So you may imagine my pleasant surprise on reading today's editorial, which actually endorses the idea.
Ancaster, Stoney Creek and Waterdown will not become ghost towns if people have to pay $1 an hour to park. Locke Street will not be deserted as a result of parking meters. Free parking is not the only reason people flock to these areas; they come because they can find the goods and services they want in a location with appealing ambience. Try finding an empty metered spot on Concession Street on a busy Saturday.
To mazimize the benefits of this proposal, I would recommend that the city go one farther and eliminate zoning by-laws that mandate "free" parking requirements at all residential and commercial buildings.
"Free" parking subsidizes the cost of driving, produces a false economy for suburban malls, and undercuts efforts to revitalize and intensify the downtown.
To all the detractors who will argue that getting rid of "free" parking will be a disaster, I offer only this: it actually works.
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