Downtown parking subject of on-going debate

Downtown parking in Toronto has been an ongoing problem for many years, but have people actually looked at the issue?

Members of the Toronto Debating Society took a run at it in their annual debate held in late March at the Swansea Town Hall, located at 95 Levina Ave. The theme of the evening was whether or not downtown parking is worth the investment, and both sides of the debate had more than enough to say on the issue.

Dean Gerrard, who has been a member of the society for nearly 10 years said, “[downtown] is place to park your car when you’re shopping, working. You can’t haul a big-screen TV on the bus!”

While this argument was presented, a Con member, Gerry Lawrence said, “the TTC is the better way and the lots being used for parking can be put to better use.”

Amanda Chariiou of Green P. parking at city hall, is for the investment, putting money and more parking spaces in downtown.

“Parking spaces or the amount of parking spaces being higher or lower hasn’t changed,” said Chariiou. “Most of the spaces have now gone underground. Not being able to find a parking space in downtown is always a problem.”

This view isn’t just shared by Chariiou, but also another member of the parking authority, Laurel Persico.

“Some of the parking spaces do come from the capital budget.” said Persico. “There are two types of parking in downtown, one which is commuter oriented and long-term, and the other being visitor, or on-street parking, which is short-term.

Downtown parking does have a negative aspect and Prof. John Miron at the University of Toronto has the other side.

“When you’re looking at physical side of the environment,” said Miron, “you need to look at someone who, for example, lives in Pickering and works downtown. Look at how much emission is used in driving down there, compared to just taking the GO Train.

“A car’s emission does run higher than a train,” said Miron. “Some even say that every car trip is bad because you’re burning so much of hydro-carbon. Transportation is the single most polluting factor to the environment. Making a car trip is not only unhealthy, but also expensive with the cost of parking.

There are several arguments for both pro and con sides of the issue, but have we really looked closely at the facts?

According to Persico, “there are nearly 2087 parking spaces at Toronto city hall, generation of revenue comes close to nearly $8-million a year. All those parking spaces are being held to good use,” said Chariiou.

“It also brings in money for business improvement areas and 75 per cent of the profit we make, goes back to the city. Our on-street parking brings in more money than the parking lots.”