Winnipeg Reckons With Parking and Place
Support from the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and business community for increasing parking rates and charging for parking on weeknights are among the changes being made to make downtown Winnipeg more vibrant. The city is seeking to encourage longer term parkers to do so in municipal ramps, freeing up on-street spaces for people doing shorter trips to shop or dine.
"Parking should never be free and never be without a time limit," says urban planner Brent Toderian. "It’s not just about revenue, it’s about supporting your downtown retailers and your traffic situation."
The two initiatives in Winnipeg are part of a larger puzzle of creating more vibrant downtowns, including improving and encouraging transit, little things like back-in angled parking, and getting more people walking and biking. Architect Johanna Hurme, chairwoman of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, cites time spent in Helsinki when she was younger as a guide to her efforts in Winnipeg.
"Helsinki is twice as dense and very walkable," she says. "You’re saving so much on infrastructure because you have so much less roadway and have to maintain so much less."
Winnipeg's next issue is improving transit, which many feel is not reliable enough. Among the options being considered are a bus fare increase, and also a gas tax increase. Coffee shop owner Lyle Stafford is hopeful for these and other policy changes that will bring more pedestrians and cyclists downtown, as he sees them as having a direct positive impact on his and other businesses.