Pay parking has divided the community of Harrison Hot Springs for far too long.
And because it’s a potential revenue stream for the municipality, it’s a concept that’s not going to die this week, next year, or after another election.
But it should.
While Harrison Hot Springs is a gem in its own right, its tourism traffic cannot be compared to nearby meccas like Whistler or White Rock. What Harrison needs is its own unique solution to thinning out the lines of cars that clog Esplanade on those busy holiday weekends. The community needs to drum up a localized solution, and even better — a green solution.
Rather than taking a cue from Whistler’s method of pay parking, why not take a look at how they route traffic? Or rather, how they divert traffic from the walkable business core, and encourage pedestrians. A good start would be encouraging biking and walking around the main beach by making the sides of the roads safer.
Or better yet, why not keep the traffic out of town altogether through the summer weekends? There are a handful of empty lots waiting for development to be needed — and then permitted.
Nobody really wants to pave paradise in favour of a parking lot. But that’s exactly what Whistler did, while incorporating its hiking and biking trails, and even a bike park, in all adjacent corners.
And it works. Stockpiling all the cars away from the attractions could be a solution here, along with a bike rental operation or peak hours shuttle bus.
People like to walk. And while they’re walking, they like to pop in and out of the very kinds of stores Harrison is rightfully proud of.
But every time a car sits idling waiting for someone, anyone, to leave a parking spot at the beach, it’s at a cost to the environment. And whenever cars circle the town scouting out the perfect place to stop, the roads become less pedestrian friendly.
For a community that is doing it’s best to attract tourism, pay parking would have been a step in the wrong direction.