There was a major development over the summer on an issue that I blogged about a year earlier. I’ve been meaning to comment on it ever since but time sensitive events like the provincial election took over my blogging time. But I should still comment since though it was a single post, it did stir up one of the best conversations on this blog.

The Region of Waterloo voted to end free employee parking. I want to congratulate Council for supporting this change and the staff members who helped make it happen.

As I explained a year ago in greater detail, I think that it’s important that the municipality that runs our public transit with one hand should be giving out free parking to staff with its other hand. Since there’s no such thing as free parking, the benefit was unsustainable since taxpayers could not afford to continue building new parking for regional staff. The policy also worked against increasing land values downtown so that it made business sense to replace surface parking lots with parking structures (known as parking garages to most of us).

There was a false start when it looked like the policy would have a grandfather clause so that it would only apply to new staff. Unfortunately, that policy would have taken decades to implement. So I am particularly grateful to Councillor Jane Mitchell and Mayor Les Armstrong who changed their vote to have the paid parking policy apply to both current and new staff.

The last I saw, the Region was still working out which locations that new policy would affect. I wouldn’t expect it would need to apply to every single regional facility as long as it applies to parking for office in our cities core areas especially the regional headquarters on Frederick Street in downtown Kitchener.

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