Calgary’s parking authority said it’s not parking that keeps people out of the downtown, a claim the Calgary Downtown Association refutes.

Metro spoke to a number of downtown parkers yesterday and they confirmed it was the cost of parking that deters them, not the parking system itself.

“No one wants to shop downtown ... there’s free parking at the mall,” said Dubhe Coates.

Earlier this week, a Calgary Parking Authority-sanctioned poll said a majority of Calgarians were happy with the ParkPlus system.

Most of the people Metro asked thought the system was better than meters. It was the cost and difficulty of parking downtown that kept them away.

“I don’t think the city needs to be collecting this kind of money from people,” said Harvey Xu, who was parking on Riverfront Avenue yesterday.

According to the parking authority, the number of people using street-side parking has remained steady in the last 12 months, even with a rate hike in January. With those statistics, they claim parking can’t be the reason people don’t shop or eat at downtown businesses. Those interviewed by Metro said it’s just more convenient to shop near their homes and where they can park for free.

Still, some said they don’t have a problem with parking downtown, but their activity options are limited in the evenings. Mike MacKinnon was one of them.

He said he’s often downtown but still doesn’t shop or seek entertainment in the core.

“It has a lot to do with the hours. If you’re not here during the day, things kind of shut down downtown,” MacKinnon said.

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