The cover above comes from the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District’s (RDBID) winter guide that arrived in the mail some time last week. Examining the cover, I find the subtitle troubling, “Your guide to parking shopping and dining in Downtown Regina.” Why is parking the first topic in my guide? It seems to suggest parking is the first priority for downtown Regina.
Why would the RDBID promote parking so? The Downtown Plan does not prioritize parking as a principal or as one of its so-called ‘eight big moves.’ Why is the RDBID, one of the important partners in crafting the Downtown Plan, now seem to be running from its goals?
It must come down to the feedback RDBID staff receives. I imagine the downtown ambassadors fielding a number of questions, comments and complaints about the “parking situation downtown.” The wording of the guide seems to over compensate in trying to speak to those drivers afraid or unwilling to come downtown.
Inside the guide RDBID provides a map to illustrate the priority of parking. Below is an image of that parking map (click on the map to expand).
The map highlights the location of buildings, including City Hall, the RDBID offices and the Regina Regional Opportunities Commission (RROC). It shows public and Impark parking areas, taxi stands and the Transit Info Centre on 11th avenue. There are a handful of other corporate logos not included in the legend, placed on mostly hotel buildings but also on one bank and the post office. The bus station is given over to the company symbol for the Saskatchewan Transit Company (STC). There are ten points of interest: two entertainment centres (Casino Regina and Globe Theatre), three public spaces (City Square Plaza, Victoria Park and F.W. Hill Mall), two public educational centres (Regina Public Library [Dunlop Art Gallery and RPL Film Theatre] and Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame), one club (Royal Canadian Legion) one independent art gallery (Neutral Ground Contemporary Art Form) and a shopping mall (Cornwall Centre Shopping Centre).
The irony is that one of these point of interest, the Legion, is soon to become part parking structure (Leader Post)! For many the Legion will not be so much a point of interest in a couple of years as another blue circle with a white ‘P’.
Looking beyond the inconsistent methods, the abundance of blue and black parking symbols betrays the purpose of the map. It is clear there is an active block between Hamilton and Lorne Streets with the remaining edge of the Downtown little more than a collection of surface lots. There are so many holes, vacant lots dedicating space to cars at rest. The parking map does not do justice to all the private spaces either. What of the underground parking, some of which is open to the public? Or private parking under and above ground, on the surface, serving many office workers and hotel guests? These go unrepresented on this already parking centric map. On street parking is also missing. There seems to be no lack of parking, so why the emphasis?
Where is the promotion of transit? Is highlighting the Transit Centre really enough? Only 5 percent of Reginans use transit. There is no better place to connect to than Downtown in the current transit system. What about showcasing the bicycle parking options rather than those for motor vehicles.