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!**