David Soknacki makes enemies of downtown store owners by threatening to take their parking away
Anyone who wants to see see a small-business owner panic should try this fun experiment: walk into a shop on any major downtown street and tell the person behind the counter that the two or three on-street parking spaces outside are about to be removed. The notion that a loss of parking will lead to a loss in business is often a sticking point in negotiations for things like new bike lanes. And so mayoral candidate David Soknacki is a very brave man for promising to impose an outright ban on street parking in the downtown core if he’s elected. A very brave man.
His proposal, released on his website earlier today, makes a certain amount of sense. It calls for an area, likely “no larger than the square between Bloor, Spadina, Jarvis and Front Street,” to be slowly stripped of on-street parking on major streets over the course of three years. The additional street space would allow traffic to flow more easily, theoretically reducing gridlock (although there are some urban planners who would quibble with that). The loss of on-street parking would be offset by new, multi-storey parking garages on existing Green P lots. “Gridlock is such a reality that lane space on key roads is more valuable to move people than it is to park cars,” Soknacki is quoted as saying in the proposal’s press release.
Imagine Bloor Street as a flowing, four-lane road, rather than than the two-lanes-plus-parking gridlocked nightmare it tends to be during peak travel hours. (Maybe, if the environmental assessment goes well, we could even shoehorn some bike lanes in there, one day?) But Soknacki will have to get elected before that can happen, and with this as one of his more notable policy proposals to date, he may have to do that over the objections of some—but certainly not all—of the city’s most influential shopkeepers and restaurant owners. Couldn’t we just look at this as an opportunity to start charging people for valet service, guys?