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Dumbest idea yet

Normally, I tend not to read Sound Off — it's relentlessly negative, and people who won't put their names to their arguments seem to tend towards the strident.

But someone drew my attention to one on Monday. It was terrible:

Just make it much needed parking lot

Apparently the city hasn’t spent (wasted) enough tax dollars at Ninth Street and Princess Avenue as now they are going to haul in black dirt and seed the vacant lot. It will take a few years before any grass ever takes hold and then there will be additional maintenance needed to mow the grass. Next thing is it will become a gathering area for vagrants tossing garbage around. All that is needed is to level it and turn it into a parking lot for 20 years and develop a playground. No need for grass just use it as a parking lot.

Well, that's disappointing. It might be the dumbest possible use for ANY downtown lot, but especially this one.

Parking lots are an expensive use of land — they are good for only one purpose: storing a vehicle that isn't being used. Certainly, in our car-based culture, we need to provide some parking around amenities, but downtown Brandon has more than enough parking.

What we need are more amenities.

Are parks, with grass and picnic tables, the best possible amenity for downtown? Certainly not. Downtown should be full of dense urban development. But it's better than a parking lot.

Setting aside the dumbest part of the argument (that grass needs mowing, but asphalt is apparently free), I can't imagine why we need another parking lot downtown.

The former Brandon Inn location at Ninth and Princess is literally RIGHT NEXT to plenty of parking. Let's recap:

  • There is a parking lot directly adjacent, across the lane to the east.
  • There is parking lot directly south, on the other side of the barbersop.
  • There is a second parking lot on the same side of the same hundred-block, just past the nail salon.
  • It is directly across the street from the largest parking lot in downtown, the Town Centre parkade, which is the only two-storey parkade that I can think of within 100 miles.

All of that is within ONE BLOCK of where this Sound Off submitter thinks we need another parking lot? Yeeesh.

In fact, let's take a look at the parking stock already available in downtown Brandon:

I've highlighted the Brandon Inn location in orange, and marked all the other parking lots I can find in yellow. Lots that are just vacant, like the former Brown Block location, are not marked. Car repair spots are also not marked.

That doesn't include the fact that there is also parking along every block of every street, too.

Still think parking is a problem?

UPDATE:

My colleague Colin makes a good point — what do our mayoral candidates think of this? What about candidates for council? Does Brandon really need more parking downtown? How are they planning to fill some of those vacant lots? What's their vision (to use the buzzword) for downtown four years from now. What about 14 or 40 years from now?

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If the land isn't currently being used, we may want to consider things like urban gardens. The land can always be sold, but if in the meantime we can all derive some benefit, then we should think creatively. Why not urban gardens?

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