Parking a perennial issue

Ask the mayor: George Baker of Stoke asks why workers and other Nelson residents have to pay for parking in the CBD if the mayor and some council staff get to park for free. "I'm a big believer in lead by example," he says.

Our chief executive leads by example and walks most days.

I do think it is important to provide choice and for many people driving and parking will remain the preferred choice.

Over the years I've had my own share of parking issues. I've had several tickets and every one thoroughly brasses me off.

Parking fines stimulate a persecution complex in the most rational of us.

They also upset the weekly budget.

I've driven in loops on summer Saturdays looking for that last car park just close enough to my destination while knowing it would have been quicker and more enjoyable to walk.

In winter it is a different story as I survey the choice of empty car parks in Trafalgar St.

I now have a car park provided behind Civic House and I use it most days.

My role takes me across the city at all times of the day and night and time is my most scarce resource.

The car and car park make my life a lot easier.

I can hear the irony in the council telling others to take the bus, car pool, walk, or cycle to work while providing a car park for council cars, including my own.

But it makes sense that staff who are on the go, our building inspectors and contract supervisors, can head out to check jobs as efficiently as possible.

That means taking a vehicle parked reasonably close to Civic House.

The vehicle and car park are tools of the trade.

There are several other businesses in the CBD that provide on-site parking for the same reason.

We also have a large number of employees who cycle or walk to work, as do many councillors.

Our chief executive leads by example and walks most days.

I do think it is important to provide choice and for many people driving and parking will remain the preferred choice.

So how can the parking system in our CBD provide for the needs of businesses, employees, clients and shoppers?

Later this week council will be briefed on a Parking Strategy Review.

Public engagement and feedback will follow.

I'd like to achieve a parking system that is safe, easy to use and financially viable.

We also need a CBD that is active and interesting; a place that attracts people.

We need a parking system that allows businesses to operate successfully.

At least once a week I get told free parking is the system we need.

If I thought that would support our CBD and end our fascination and frustration with parking I might agree to it. There are days when I am sorely tempted.

But be careful what you wish for.

There are no free car parks just like there is no free land.

Land in the CBD commands a premium price regardless of its end use.

Someone is going to pay for car parks whether it is through an end user parking ticket or through rates.

In Nelson there is already some parking choice with a number of private car parks within the CBD.

Some people will pay for convenience and the guarantee of a dedicated car park.

A little further away "free to user" all-day parking is provided at Trafalgar Park and inner city residential streets. Is there enough of this?

You've been telling me it's getting tight.

Let's see what the numbers say.

You're also telling me that parking fines are making CBD shopping a less attractive option especially as new destinations appear.

You don't mind paying for parking but you want a more flexible system than the prepaid ticket.

Several people have asked for an updated system in the squares where you pay on return to your car and exit via a boom gate. I'm quite warm to that idea.

With that technology we could also improve free winter parking, on more days than Tuesdays, and link it to a receipt from a CBD business.

And in the interest of providing transport choice that receipt might also get you a free bus ride.

I'm going to be interested to hear the information that will be presented this week and I'll be interested to listen to your feedback and ideas.

I'm not sure there is a right solution for parking but I do think there is a better solution.

Wouldn't it be great if conversations in Nelson no longer included grumbles about parking?

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