Angle parking stirs debate
Downtown parking project now one month old
Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014 06:00 am
A month into its trial phase, angle parking in the downtown is receiving mixed reviews.
Store owners in the city’s Perron District say their customers are happier because they now have more parking spaces to choose from.
But many people are also cautious about backing out into the traffic, they say.
“I heard more good than bad,” said Gisele Sinclair, co-owner of the Candy Bouquet. “There are a few people that don’t like backing up into traffic. But it helps that they decreased the speed limit.”
She added that the new defined parking spots help people park their cars in a more organized way instead of “parallel parking randomly.”
Parking for her staff has not become easier though.
The Candy Bouquet has two assigned parking spots in the back of the store. But that’s not always enough for all of their employees, she said.
In the long run, construction of a parkade would solve downtown parking issues best, she said.
“That’s the only way you will get around the density issue,” she said.
The city created angle parking in the downtown in early June as part of a pilot project. The project, which will run for a year, has the goal of providing a solution to parking shortages in the area at a low cost.
It has since created 29 new parking stalls.
Traffic speed was also reduced to 40 kilometres per hour on Perron, St. Thomas and St. Michael streets.
Once the project has concluded its year-long trial, its success will be evaluated based on four criteria: the reduction of collision rates, an increase in pedestrians, a reduction of speed, and feedback from the downtown community and its users.
Nancy Metcalfe of the St. Albert Optometrists Clinic has found it easier to find a parking space for her own vehicle now that there are more customer parking spots on the street.
She has had patients complain that they won’t park on the street because they don’t like backing out. But reducing the speed limit has made parking and driving on Perron Street easier, she said.
“It slowed traffic down for sure,” she said.
The changes make the downtown more crowded to get through, agreed Dominique Simard, an employee with the Crimson Quill gift store.
But she has not seen or heard of any crashes and people have become more courteous since angle parking was introduced, she said.
“People seem to take it easy,” she said.
Her mother Mimi Simard, who was shopping downtown on Monday, agreed that backing out can be a bit of a gamble when you can’t see past the car parked beside you.
But being able to park in more spots, she now takes the time to go shopping and look around more often, she said.
“It looks more organized,” she said. “I get why they did it.”
Ryan Harnell of Edmonton was also visiting St. Albert on Monday. He said he too feels more intrigued to wander and look around.
“I like the character (of the downtown). It’s definitely classier,” he said. “With the way it looks, it’s more of a small-town feel. I want to come back and walk around.”