There are few topics surrounding urban planning in Regina that create tension like parking (in the downtown most notably, but generally everywhere).  Some complain that there is a lack of parking in downtown Regina, while others argue that there is far too much surface parking and that it is unrealistic to demand storefront parking at every store you go to (that isn’t a boxstore development).  Objectively, I would argue that there is a lot of parking downtown and we should all probably suck it up and enjoy the 2 blocks that it takes to walk to our favourite store.

While construction on Victoria Park’s new plaza space takes place, the City has reassured people that downtown parking will be at ~98.4% of the normal capacity and after construction it will be back to 100%.  As a pedestrian who lives in the downtown area, parking (or the lack thereof) isn’t an issue for me and the time I spent in Montreal firmly cemented my belief that storefront parking really is a pipedream that can only exist in a world where we are all transformers.

But – enough of the contentious nature of parking and car-centered planning debates – you can get your fill here (and for good, local, measure you can check out this dogblog post from a few months back).  Today I want to talk about park(ing)!

Park(ing) was a project first initiated in San Francisco in 2005 by a group called Rebar.  I first heard about park(ing) a few years ago and fell deeply in love with the notion of transforming a basic parking stall into an ephemeral greenspace – creating public space out of private space.  The impetus for Rebar to do this project lies with the character of San Francisco itself: “more than 70% of San Francisco’s downtown outdoor space is dedicated to the private vehicle, while only a fraction of that space is allocated to the public realm…”  It doesn’t take much work to discover that space dedicated to the “private vehicle” in Regina’s downtown is also quite high.

(*note that this map of parking downtown does not account for on street parking stalls)

This idea works because it allows citizens to rent a relaxing public space in an otherwise un-relaxed private environment.  By putting a dollar in the meter you have just leased one hour of time in a park right where you are!  It appears that park(ing) installations often last about 2 hours, however I can imagine that there would be enough people to keep the meter full all day long (especially in densely populated cities).

By posing the question: “What is the range of possible occupancy activities for this short-term lease?”, Rebar challenges us to extended this idea of leasing public space.  Realistically the possibilities are endless: you could take a nap, play chess, set up a soap box and rant/preach, play hopscotch, or bring a guitar and give a short performance (a very mini-folk fest)…

Park(ing) has since turned into a worldwide phenomenon with 140 cities (21 countries) participating!  Friday September 17, 2010 is this years annual park(ing) event – if you want to give it a try, check out the website for guidelines and ways to get involved!

Where in the city do you think a park(ing) space is most needed?

**I’d love to see an entire ImPark lot converted for an afternoon!**


4 thoughts on “Park(ing)

  1. Craig Fink says:

    Park(ing) looks like fun! Regina is an interesting case because so much of the busiest metered street parking is so close to Victoria Park, already a vibrant greenspace. So I don’t really have a good answer as to where would be a good place to “park”. It’s a fantastic concept – my kind of activism. Though in Regina I’d be afraid of being mowed down by a Harley-Davidson-branded Ford F-350, regardless of the number of orange cones around.

    I completely concur about Impark, though. I think the impark lots are far more pernicious (for Regina’s particular situation) than the metered street parking, as you show in your map. If there were anyway to get around the fact that it’s private property, having an evening Impark block party would be a blast. They’re all abandoned after work hours anyway. My main choices for an Imparty would be Broad and Vic (conveniently adjacent to the Roof Top), and Hamilton and Vic across from Atlantis.

    As a side note, I like the fact that in the city’s downtown plan, Office for Urbanism conveniently replaced the Broad and Vic Impark lot with a lovely building that has a beautiful setback and some nice public space on the corner. Wishful thinking. Similar wishful thinking: the renders of the new Plains development that have grass across the street instead of an Esso. Ha.

    Lastly, on the issue of Reginans and parking, I think people cite parking as a reason not to go downtown simply because it’s an “acceptable” reason, when the real reason is…I dunno…a shrug or something. It’s almost a bizarre form of conventional wisdom in which “parking” has become universal shorthand for “they don’t have big box stores down there, and, I dunno, I just never think of going there”. “Parking,” they say, and people nod knowingly.

    Parking my ass. There is free parking almost anytime anyone would want to shop, or go out for dinner. Not to mention the disappearance of meters as you go south to College (on Scarth, for example), which people conveniently forget is only a 5 minute walk from Vic Park. Anyone that actually goes downtown (as a driver, like me) knows that parking is not an issue. No spots on Scarth? There will almost certainly be some on Lorne (even on weekdays), and the walk will be equivalent to walking from the middle of a big box parking lot to the entrance of the big box store. It’s a weird phenomenon that I don’t really understand.

    Sorry for the length of this!

    1. No apologies required Craig – I love it! This is the conversation I’d love to be having (and I’d love to respond to everything you address here: “acceptable” reasons, planning rendering and the reality that follows, etc).

      I too had a hard time thinking of good park(ing) spots downtown (due to Vic Park)… maybe somewhere on 11th closer to Albert (it is very warm there due to the massive amount of pavement).

      Also – I say we just plan an impromptu Imparty! I already have ideas about the great tree next to Regina Florist on Hamilton across from Atlantis…

  2. Craig Fink says:

    I’d definitely be interested to hear your thoughts on those subjects, which I’m sure would be more well-considered than my half-informed amateur rants. I’m moving to Victoria at the end of July (grad school), and I hear you’re moving to…Vermont? From Judy. An Imparty would definitely be a blast, though.

    One last thought on the topic of the Esso on Vic/Albert: I don’t suppose it’s beyond the realm of possibility that that particular Esso could go away sometime in the near future. Most of the more central-ish gas stations have closed in recent years, following the cars out to the periphery of the city. (I’m thinking mainly here of the Esso/car wash on the corner of Vic and Park which at long last is being torn down, a few gas stations on South Albert near Leboldus, and others). So who knows – that rendered green space could still happen! On the other hand, could the redevelopment of the Plains Hotel site actually bolster the profitability of that gas station?

  3. Craig Fink says:

    Also, this is an excellent article, getting back to the topic of parking:

    But really, it’s all here:

    “People complain of Hartford, Conn., that there “is not enough parking,” when in fact nearly one-third of the city is paved over with parking lots. “The truth is that many cities like Hartford have simultaneously too much and too little parking. They have too much parking from the perspective that they have degraded vitality, interest and walkability, with bleak zones of parking that fragment the city. They have too little parking for the exact same reason—they have degraded walkability and thus increased the demand for parking.”

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