Posts Tagged ‘parking

03
Apr
09

Parking space

When you walk around downtown, they hardly even register in your mind. Parking lots. They’re nearly everywhere, and it’s not often that we give them so much as a second glance. The truth is, parking lots are terrible wastes of space. They don’t really have many alternate uses, they’re visually unappealing, and they’re not very efficient, either, especially when you have a bunch of single-occupant vehicles parked in a lot all day.

What I wanted to know was exactly how much space are we losing to these surface parking lots? While it could always be worse (take a look around downtown Phoenix on Google Maps), the answer is still a lot. I mapped out all of the at least moderately sized lots (skipping parking garages, since they’re a little better in their space usage) in Centretown north of Somerset, and in the ByWard Market. I don’t claim 100% accuracy on these (you can see where Google’s satellite imagery doesn’t match their map data, for one), but I think they should still give you an idea of just how much room we use in Ottawa to give us spots to leave our cars all day.

Parking lots in Centretown north of Somerset

Parking lots in Centretown north of Somerset

Parking lots in the ByWard Market

Parking lots in the ByWard Market

Maybe it’s just me, but I found both of these to be pretty astounding. In both the densest part of our city, an in one of Ottawa’s biggest pedestrian areas, huge amounts of land are given over to parking lots. Just imagine if some of these were turned into apartment buildings, parkettes or squares! I’m certain it would make for a much nicer urban environment, as well as make these areas more attractive to both visitors and residents.

What also gets me is the fact that there are so many parking lots around the Supreme Court. These are federal lands, near a national landmark, so why are they given over to parked cars? Surely they’d be much nicer as public parks?

Of course, I recognize that we can’t just up and eliminate parking. We’re still a car-dependent society, no matter how good public transit use is in this city. However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that we should build more underground parking lots or parking garages. The latter don’t even have to be ugly, as the Rideau Centre’s new parking garage shows. Maybe it’s not as cheap as simply paving over a square of land, but it’s certainly a much better way to deal with parking in our downtown core.

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