Plans for parking along the South LRT seem to change more frequently than for high-speed transit to West Edmonton. From plenty of parking to no parking, it seems we’re now back to plenty.
To review, first Southgate didn’t put a co-operative lot in their expansion, leaving the city few options. Oddly enough, paving over adjacent neighbourhoods didn’t appeal to their residents, nor was it cheap.
Then the Century Park garage was to cost an absurdly high $50,000 per space. Giving away parking spaces worth more than the cars for free is incredibly irresponsible, but the replacement at Ellerslie Road is still nearly $20,000 per stall.
Now, with a slowing real estate market, Century Park’s developer is willing to — temporarily — lease the city land for a 1,230 space gravel lot. At less than $2,000 a pop, this is a plan I can support.
Sure, this is a temporary lot on a five-year lease with no permanent replacement, but that’s actually a benefit in disguise. In five years, the land will be ready to be turned into homes right next to the LRT station, with the delay giving the city time to make sure that feeder buses are in place.
Park-and-riders, now used to the benefits of LRT, will dread going back to being stuck in traffic.
Nearly half would have taken the bus anyway, some will get dropped off, and others will use another lot.
Worst case, a couple hundred park-and-riders are lost to house thousands of people at the station — a great trade.
The only way to make this better would be to have the lot on city owned land so that the city could make a tidy profit. Unfortunately, council probably would have buckled and made it permanent, just like they’ve done for the expensive Ellerslie Road lot and need to resist doing for the $50,000 per spot garage.
The underlying issue here is that Edmonton’s automobile dependency causes many to see there’s a problem getting to stations, but instead of wanting to make transit work, they scream for parking at any price — even at the price of dozens of buses.
With due respect to the perspective Coun. Jane Batty represented at council, getting people out of their cars needs to mean more than them literally leaving their cars in a park-and-ride lot.
For that goal, cheap, temporary lots — plus plenty of buses — are better than expensive, permanent ones.