Saturday, December 4, 2010

Parking Lots

Winnipeg parking lot of the future?

Mary Agnes Welch in the Free Press is doing a four part series on parking in Winnipeg. There have been some good blog reports on this subject over the last several months but kudos to the big paper for a detailed look that includes locations and values on the land.

One thing from the article that Welch wrote:

Other lots are unofficially earmarked as sites for future development. The large Impark lot on Main Street north of the Manitoba Museum is seen as a location for the museum's expansion one day.

I've said it once before and I'll say it again: I believe the land by the museum should be reserved for Manitoba's first dedicated Science Museum.

I am seriously considering mounting some sort of campaign for the idea. What do others think?

In the mean time, I do think I see a few positive nibblings at some of the surface lots. However, we keep seeing things like the Shanghai restaurant crop up.

Good blogger articles on the parking issue here from West End Dumplings. And here from Rise and Sprawl.

As I've said, a few bloggers have covered this. I was rather surprised in the election that there was a lot of talk about surface lots and few answers.

I honestly think that the city has to make sure that they continue to resist demolitions of buildings for future plans that are non-existent.

At the same time, I think that on land set aside for things like the Manitoba Museum and the Convention Center that serious consideration be made to fulfill their expansions.

Manitoba and the Winnipeg will soon be 150 years old. To this day, the Museum remains one of the top Michelin attractions for the province. It is time to invigorate and expand that legacy.

As far as the Winnipeg Convention Centre goes, it is time to think big in the same way as the original building was thinking big. I know some focus on whether the facility earns back the money it cost to build and operate it but I'd argue that the numerous conventions hosted there have economic impacts far beyond the subsidy of $2 million it receives from the city.

Sam Katz and other rejected the expansion the Winnipeg Convention Centre announced in 2008.

I certainly don't think the project should go forward with only public financial backing. I personally think it is time to invite a private casino operators to make a bid for Winnipeg's first Las Vegas-style hotel, casino and sportsbook attached to an expanded Convention Center. A royalties agreement should be put in place to support the expansion and operating costs of the Convention Center within a timeframe that made its goal one of self-sufficiency.

It is time for innovative thinking that involves more private funding being brought to the table.

Update: I spoke to two clients yesterday about the Manitoba Moose game on New Year's Eve. Both expressed interest in attending this fun evening that is really geared to families but worried about parking. They said that they might not go because they weren't sure where to park or felt it was hard to find parking.

I realize this is exasperating for those who say there are 20,000 parking spaces in the downtown but it doesn't mean that people don't feel that way anyway.

Some people who do know about parking downtown resent paying for it and circle endlessly looking for free street parking.

In any event, I was able to convince both people I talked to that the Manitoba Moose game was too good to miss and that Portage Place (among other parking lots) was priced at $5 for the evening and that this was a great price for a family of four of five to manage on a night out.

I explained that the skywalk was was warm and safe for a family to navigate for the game and that Portage Place was a good place to store the car to melt some of that winter snow that accumulates at the wheel well. No sweeping or warming up the car after. The only thing I said was to be patient while exiting but that I had never had to wait more than 15 minutes or so while leaving the parking lot.

I think I convinced for certain one of the families I talked to. The other was giving it serious consideration.

These can't be the only families weighing out their evening out based on parking. Overall, I believe that many families when they hear what $5 pays for when going to a Moose game in terms of parking, they find it is a reasonable cost.

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One Man Committee said...

The anecdote about the Moose game is very exasperating yet typical of the kind of mentality that Winnipeg faces in terms of attracting people downtown. That's the whole "if I can't park for free within 20 metres of the door, then I'm not going" mindset.

The fact of the matter is that if you can handle walking three blocks you could park for free on any number of streets near the MTS Centre. If that's a problem, then there are parkades (several of which are heated) that offer spaces for a song.

What more could the MTS Centre do short of offering free valet parking?

John Dobbin said...

The fear of downtown parking is more pervasive than of crime in some cases.

I think you might be right that MTS could benefit from valet service. It might convince some people on parking.

However, I find that once people are familiar with the logistics of where parking is, the value of it in terms of cost ($5 bucks for heated garage is pretty sweet) and seeing great family entertainment in a Moose game, they will remain fearful of going downtown.