NOTES/QUOTES #9: Parking meters; plus a look at two levels of politics
Parking in downtown Yellowknife has become a lot more expensive, with the city’s quiet hike of meter rates.
The city says it hasn’t raised rates since 2010, so this hike comes as a shock. One hour of parking has increased from $1.25 to $2. That means it costs $4 for two hours, a quarter gets you eight minutes (up from 12), and a nickel purchases a lowly 60 seconds (up from 120 seconds).
Cabin Radio reported in April of last year the recommended cost of parking passes and parking certificates would be unchanged.
But something I noticed has changed — for the worse, of course — is the rates seen on the MacKay Pay parking app the city brought into play with much ballyhoo last year.
I work downtown almost every day. And while I do walk from my apartment on occasion, often it makes more sense for me to drive.
And I have been using the app every time I do. It means I have a handy paper trail of parking costs for my business income tax return and I don’t have to carry a pocket full of change.
But when I went to use the app last week, I discovered it would only allow me to buy one hour of parking. Period. No extensions at the same spot.
It used to be two hours.
While the no extension feature isn’t new — and I get it, the city wants vehicular churn at parking spots — having a one-hour max is just ridiculous and will severely limit my use of the app. I need two hours parking, so I will have to plug the meters with change. And with a 35-cent user fee charged for every app use, who will use the shorter times now?
I hope this is just a glitch with the app and something the city will address. I hope this isn’t a move by the city to suppress usage of the app — or make users of it more prone to missing the one-hour expiry — to generate more parking ticket revenue. I haven’t asked officials about it yet, but I will and I will report back here.
UPDATE: A few days after I posted this blog, the city announced the parking app was “malfunctioning” and be out of service for a while. When I went to try the app out again on Monday, Aug. 19, lo and behold the two-hour option was back. Albeit at the more expensive rate, as you can see in the screen grab below.
Why did the city choose to up the meter rates this year, after leaving them dormant since 2010?
Well, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure it out. The parking app has been working, with many people using it. In fact, the city has admitted tickets issued for expired parking meters have dropped since the app was introduced.
That is income the city must make up somehow. Hence, the price increase.
And another thing … about parking …
I need to park in the vicinity of the courthouse, so I can sit in on matters for Cabin Radio. I’m usually there for two hours in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon.
Over the summer, there has been a crazy number of meters put out of service — two for the Black Night Pub’s patio and up to five for construction workers doing never-ending upgrades inside the courthouse. And for the past few weeks, at least a dozen spots have been taken away for road construction on 49 Street north of north of 49 Avenue by the entrance to the military complex.
This has created parking wars in the area, with people making a mad dash when a spot opens up. This situation should ease in coming weeks, however, when construction is finished and the pubs portable patio closes for the season.
Early on in the political positioning leading up to this fall’s election season, a few politicians and some policies have caught my attention.
So as the fact that we have the Battle of the Rotary Club Presidents on the federal level.
Banker Yanik D’Aigle, president of The Rotary Club of Yellowknife and lawyer Paul Falvo, president of True North Rotary, are the declared candidates for the Conservative Party and Green Party respectively.
Full disclosure: I am a member of the Yellowknife club and have worked for conservative politicians earlier on in my life. However, I am not a member of any political party at the moment.
Those two Rotarians are in a tough fight against the incumbent Liberal MP, Michael McLeod, who, in recent weeks, has been dropping off bags of money for various programs and initiatives on behalf of his government.
This as the other parties — the NDP has yet to put forth a candidate and Maxime Bernier’s libertarian leaning People’s Party of Canada, has chosen Luke Quinlan as the party’s NWT candidate. Quinlan runs a security services company in Yellowknife.
I don’t think this fall’s tilt in the NWT will be necessarily be a referendum on McLeod’s performance in his first term as MP. The perennial backbencher’s fate will rise and fall with that of the national party and its leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
However, McLeod does have the advantage of incumbency. He has also been to most — if not all — of the communities in the NWT since he has been in office. And when he shows up, he’s usually there to drop off some federal funding to help the places out.
That’s a huge advantage for the incumbent, as travel to communities in the North is extremely expensive. And politics is still personal; politicians need to knock on doors, press the flesh and kiss a few babies.
But the most votes are in the capital, and Yellowknife tends to lean to the left. While there are pockets of blue, this place blushes red.
In fact, the last time the Tories had an MP in what is now the NWT riding was Dave Nickerson, from 1979–1988. It has vacillated between the NDP and Liberals ever since. That’s why I find it odd that the NDP hasn’t found a contender yet. Perhaps it’s a reflection of how the national party, under hapless leader Jagmeet Singh, is faring.
I will not make a prediction on who will win the NWT riding. I will note the previous Harper Tory government did quite a bit of good for the North. For example, the Inuvik to Tuk Highway was a project started before Trudeau came to power.
And what has Justin done for us? One of his marquee moves was to follow his buddy, former U.S. president Barack Obama and impose a moratorium on oil and gas development in the Arctic Ocean. This basically placed a dark cloud over what could have been bright futures for communities in the Beaufort Delta and the NWT’s economy as it now can see the sun setting on diamond mining.
And apart from having legal cannabis now — that being a plus for some, negative for others — how has your life changed in the past four years?
In the Territorial General Election, there are quite a few interesting developments. Following a few years of a fairly intense push to get more women into the legislative assembly, we now have a lot of declared female candidates.
That’s great. But the real test will be to see how many get elected. I am concerned about rumblings of having non-elected women installed as MLAs. That is not very democratic and I fail to see how it would work in real terms.
So we’ll see what kind of campaigns the woman candidates mount. And I remind all candidates that doing the tough work of plodding door-to-door is what really helps win elections. And these days, having a good media officer who can obtain positive press and provide a high-level of competent social media work is also critical.
I do like the prospects for a few of the women. There are a couple of very bright, accomplished women ready to take on male incumbents — and some of those fellas are ready to get the boot.
One interesting race is in Yellowknife Centre constituency, where social activist MLA Julie Green has announced she’ll seek re-election. So far, she’s going up against Order of Canada recipient Arlene Hache for the seat. In 2015, Green beat three-term MLA Hawkins by a margin of 81 votes in 2015 (470 to 389 votes).
Hache is also a champion of social justice, which is fine and sort of appropriate for the troubled constituency that encompasses downtown Yellowknife, with all of its poverty and addiction issues that challenge business concerns.
Hache told Cabin Radio: “Responses to the escalating violence in the downtown core have been well-meaning but largely miss the mark. The sense of community I and others have known has been replaced by fear and dread.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
And what are incumbent Green’s concerns, as expressed in that same story: “[I have) worked hard for my constituents, all Yellowknifers, and residents of the Northwest Territories to improve outcomes on a wide variety of issues.” Cabin Radio stated she listed affordable housing, junior kindergarten funding, and a “push for binding arbitration to avoid a public sector strike” as some of her first-term accomplishments.
I also watched her celebrating the opening last year of the fast-failing social experiment known as the Day Shelter/Sobering Centre — a magnet for violence, panhandling and public intoxication.
So that should be a good race. But Hache has run for, and lost, several elections in the past.
And one more thing … about the elections …
Electoral districts are distinct. There are defined maps for federal and territorial districts. Federally, those places are called ridings. Territorially (and provincially), they are referred to as constituencies.
If this city had electoral districts for its elections, they would be called wards. Down south, there are also districts called rural municipalities.
One of my many pet peeves is when I hear reporters or candidates call the territorial districts ridings.
I mean, come on. It’s just wrong.