You know the drill. You’ve got 15 minutes to spare. You drop your passengers off at the stadium/restaurant/nightclub and look for a place to park.
Good luck. The IceCaps are in town tonight, and whether you’re going to the game or not, they have already sealed your fate.
Nothing on New Gower, Duckworth or Water streets. You try Harbour Drive all the way to Atlantic Place. Nothing.
George Street west? You prowl the smaller streets to no avail. In the end, you’re forced to park a 15-minute walk away from your destination. So much for being on time.
Welcome to the wonderful world of downtown parking in St. John’s.
It’s a common big-city problem, but residents here don’t think they should have to put up with it. To some extent, they have a point.
In Toronto or Vancouver, parking woes are common and parking fees can be enormous. Here, you can park under the Delta hotel for about $10 — if it’s not full. But few other options are available.
On Monday, St. John’s development committee chairman Tom Hann asked council to adopt new parking recommendations in its municipal plan. Councillors agreed to call a commissioner’s hearing on it next month.
But the topic du jour was regional transportation — or rather the lack thereof.
St. John’s has always had a parking problem — and likely always will. It’s an old city with narrow streets and a lot of hills. The few parking solutions that have been found can’t keep up with the growth.
Today, the city is counting on about 500 new parking spaces coming on stream, but even that won’t solve the problem.
As for expanding public transportation to the outskirts, the idea is shot down every time it comes up. No amount of exhortation will move mayors surrounding the capital city to come on board. Their residents just aren’t interested, they say — it’s not worth the money.
And yet, a study has found more than 40 per cent of cars parked downtown at any given time are driven by out-of-towners.
"If our neighbours don't want to participate in a regional system and participate in the millions of dollars it's going to take, then maybe the province has to issue some type of levy to start taxing the region to pay for it," Hann suggested.
Let’s hope Hann’s not putting too many eggs in that basket. Experience has shown the province has no stomach to get involved, either.
A lasting solution will only come if regional leaders finally decide to stand up and take some initiative.
All the mayors of Mount Pearl, Paradise and C.B.S. seem interested in right now is mindlessly pandering to the current whims of residents.
This head-in-the-sand apathy has gone on too long.
Towns wrangle tirelessly over every shared service that comes up. In the end, ironically, this may just be what will force some form of amalgamation in the region.
And it won’t come a day too soon.