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LETTER: Free parking is not the answer to downtown issues

If the downtown shops wish to thrive, the solutions will have to be innovative and creative: not free parking, laments letter writer
2021-09-23 ap_134738

MidlandToday welcomes letters to the editor at andrew@midlandtoday.ca. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). This letter is in response to a story published July 15, entitled 'Paid parking in Midland bad for business.'
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Respectfully, I feel that paying $1 per hour to park in Midland very reasonable. I am not a shopper in the downtown core, I rent a room so have little use for many material possessions at this stage in my life, I'm only a few years away from retirement. Even my adult daughters co-house. That's a growing trend in Ontario.

I do however utilize services downtown and when I do, I don't mind paying. It was the complexity of the machines that I found challenging, because when you don't use a form of technology regularly, you find yourself inevitably re-learning it when you do.

I'm alarmed by council's recent decision to provide free parking for the downtown parking lots over the summer months. These could have been months of building much-needed revenue.

I understand that choosing to drive a vehicle is a high carbon decision and expect to pay to offset that privilege through parking levies and carbon taxes when I fuel up. I expect those fees to go towards developing lower carbon transportation options in my community.

Council's decision to provide weeks of free parking to drivers, while still charging those who choose to use public transit in our town instead, a lower carbon option, seems completely out of balance to me.

I know what it's like to commute in traffic gridlock. Even though I owned a car during the four years I lived in Hamilton and commuted regularly to Toronto for professional development reasons, I utilized Go Transit and found that decision far less expensive to my mental health and my time.

There are many reasons why residents of Midland and the surrounding communities are shopping less in downtown. Online shopping, working from home, an aging population and a lack of residential density in the downtown core, are likely the most significant reasons for this decline.

If the downtown shops wish to thrive, the solutions will have to be innovative and creative: not free parking.

Ute Schmid-Jones
Midland

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