Elgin Street closure a windfall of parking fines
When the Elgin Street closure officially commenced a week ago, I should have known that there was more to this massive repair job than meets the eye. As I drove down Cartier Street parallel to Elgin, I spied a green hornet making his rounds, recording parked cars in anticipation of ticketing them an hour later.Yes, the Elgin renovation was going to be a year-long mess, but the City of Ottawa claimed it was doing everything it could to make things bearable for motorists and patrons of the many businesses that line that street. After all, wasn’t it the city that announced that its lot at 110 Laurier Ave. would be free on weekends and evenings?What the city didn’t mention was that parking restrictions on surrounding streets would remain as they are. Thus, notwithstanding that the Elgin closure results in the loss of dozens and dozens of on-street parking spaces, little has been done to make life easier for those looking to patronize local businesses.For example, the parking limit on Cartier Street remains at one hour. The same is true for many other parallel and adjoining streets. One hour leaves little time for someone to comfortably shop or dine at an Elgin Street location.Based on my Monday morning sighting, no sooner had the street closure begun than the green hornets were released. This casts doubt on the bona fides of the city’s claim of wanting to help lessen the burden on motorists. Apart from opening up one garage during off-hours, it looks like the only help on offer from the city is to help itself to even more parking-ticket revenue.If the city is sincere in its stated aim to help, the least it can do is relax parking restrictions on neighbouring streets for the duration of the construction. It wouldn’t take much to increase the on-street parking limit on Cartier, Metcalfe and McLeod streets from one hour to two or three.And if our municipal bureaucrats really wanted to be magnanimous, they could even make the metered parking spots free along adjoining streets for the coming year. That might even encourage more people to visit Elgin Street during the disruption.This would entail forgoing a year of extra parking-ticket revenue but would show a genuine desire on the part of the city to help those looking to patronize Elgin Street businesses. Given the threat that the renewal project poses to those enterprises, every effort to accommodate potential customers should be considered.Here’s hoping that the city can meet its one-year goal for completing this project and do what it can to assist those looking to do business on Elgin Street. Otherwise, we may be looking at a project deadline more akin to completing the Elgin Marbles.
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