NELSON: Pay parking in Coquitlam lost money before and will again
FACE TO FACE: Should Coquitlam and Port Moody have pay parking?
We seem to think of pay parking as an inevitable part of cosmopolitan living — but it doesn’t have to be.
We could and should choose to have no pay parking at all in Coquitlam and Port Moody despite the coming of the Evergreen Line.
Pay parking in Coquitlam has, historically, lost money. And it costs too much to chase non-payers. But instead of just dumping pay parking altogether, Coquitlam is opting to re-vamp the system to make it work better.
Is this necessary? Pay parking’s attempt to raise revenue for the city is losing money — don’t fix it, let it go.
Pay parking in Coquitlam started as a failure back in 1990, with the infamous Douglas College “overflow” student lot on Pinetree Way. This, Coquitlam’s first pay lot, didn’t make a nickel from Douglas College students as it was too far from campus. Worse, Pinetree secondary school students, teachers and parents were prohibited from parking in the empty 300-space lot right across from the high school, a senseless situation that infuriated the school community.
And from this most ridiculous beginning, pay parking in Coquitlam expanded until it reached today’s level of insolvency, the futility of which was expressed by Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart when he said this of the pay parking system: “If we can’t have taxpayers benefit… why are we doing it at all?”
Amen, Mayor Stewart. Call me old-fashioned, but wouldn’t the minimum requirement of having pay parking be that it make money?
But instead of just stopping the madness, Coquitlam is investing huge money for solar-powered pay stations that allow us to painlessly attach parking charges to our licence number anywhere in the Town Centre area. The theory is that the problem has always been ease of payment, even though we know that the actual problem is chasing non-payers.
Why are we so determined to have pay stations in Town Centre, in Coquitlam Centre, on Austin Avenue, or at the curling rink?
Glitzy, anti-tax Palm Springs, Cal. has opted for free street parking. One can park right in front of the restaurant, store, or shopping area — just like in the movies. There’s even a three-storey parkade downtown where parking is, you guessed it, free.
Let’s try that model for a while — it would cost us less.
Face to Face columnist Jim Nelson is a retired Tri-City teacher and principal who lives in Port Moody. He has contributed a number of columns on education-related issues to The Tri-City News.