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Downtown Victoria business takes parking matters into its own hands

Customers encouraged to voice parking concerns to mayor, council
The Cobbler employee Glen Butcher shows off a new handout that the View Street business is handing out to customers, urging them to call Victoria’s mayor and councillors to voice their concerns regarding parking. The handout is part of a campaign the store’s owner Sasha Appleton launched to alleviate parking problems in the downtown core. Kendra Wong/Victoria News

Sasha Appleton has had enough of what she calls the lack of parking in the downtown core and is taking things into her own hands.

The soon-to-be-owner of The Cobbler on View Street said the problem has been impacting her business for months. With no plans on the horizon to add public parking spots, Appleton has begun distributing handouts encouraging customers to voice their concerns to the mayor and councillors about the lack of street parking and in the city’s five parkades.

“We just thought since we were getting a lot of complaints and a lot of people were coming in in the afternoon and having a lot of trouble parking, that they could have their voices heard,” Appleton said. The grousing about parking is heard on a weekly basis, she added, noting that one customer told how they tried and failed to find a spot on three previous trips before eventually finding one.

“It’s frustrating. It’s a little scary for downtown merchants. How long are customers going to be loyal?”

In an effort to alleviate parking woes, the Downtown Victoria Business Association launched a park and ride service with 53 spaces, and earlier this year released a map of all parking available downtown.

RELATED: Park and ride services more than half full

But what the city needs is another parkade, said Appleton, adding she hopes the campaign doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

Coun. Margaret Lucas, council’s liaison to the DVBA, said the city is undergoing a  time of change in which hundreds of condos and apartments will be built, bringing thousands of people to live in the downtown core, and reducing the need for people to drive downtown. But it’s a change that is happening gradually and one that will slowly begin to free up parking spaces in the next five years. 

“The problem with that is we’re only halfway there, we have a long way to go, so what do we do for the next five years? We take that seriously at the city,” she said, adding the city also hopes to work with developers to build additional underground parking that could be used like a parkade.

“I do not think the city is in the business of running parkades … the cost for us to do that at the City of Victoria, we would never be able to afford that type of investment, that’s my own opinion.”