No, Coun. Denis Walsh has not gone stark, raving mad

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
November 14, 2017 - 6:49am Updated: November 14, 2017 - 11:02am

KAMLOOPS — Politics is an interesting business — one day you’re a hero, the next you’re a bum.

If Coun. Denis Walsh didn’t already know that, he’s finding out.

Some people are convinced he should sign up for counselling before he opens his mouth again on the subject of downtown parking. After voting against a $100,000 downtown parking study — which was a good thing — he decided to go further and talk about parking rates.

It isn’t that there aren’t enough parking spaces, he says, it’s that too many people want the same ones.

So, charge them more on Victoria Street than they’re charged elsewhere, or shorten the maximum time you can park there.

Reaction to his comments has ranged from “just crazy” to “go jump on a rake.”

But let’s consider this a little more before we write his political obituary. He’s absolutely correct that we all want to park right outside whichever store we’re shopping at. We know that.

He’s also right when he says people drive around in circles waiting for a spot to open up on Victoria Street. I do it often, and about half the time end up parking — get ready for this — on Seymour Street an entire block away.

So why not encourage people to walk a block instead of tying up Victoria Street? It’s not about charging people more to park, it’s about charging them a little more to park on Victoria in the sweet spot, and a little less to park a block or so away.

Simply establish a premium-rate zone on Victoria Street between First and Fifth Avenues, and fan out with lower rates from there.

I’m not wild about cutting the time limit from three hours, but even that’s worth talking about if applied to the heaviest-used blocks.

Walsh’s approach could save the cost of a parkade or two.

Coun. Walsh is a thinker. He says what he thinks.

On this one, he deserves a chance to be heard. He’s not crazy.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.