By Ole Hammarlund, MLA District 13 Charlottetown-Brighton
As an MLA for Brighton, I know that many residents are concerned that the recently reclaimed green space may be used for parking. Despite being in Charlottetown, this project is the responsibility of the Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy. Ministers have a fair bit of power – for instance, you have control over the former Prince Edward Home lands and probably a big mountain of millings somewhere, so what could be simpler than creating parking for your employees? Just truck in a few loads, spread it and bingo! Problem solved!
The only thing is this Minister is also in charge of our new transportation plan, which has the goal of reducing the use of gas guzzling and carbon emitting cars. Clearly creating more parking, which actually encourages more car use, does exactly the opposite!
If it is good for other Islanders to use more public transportation, arrange more car pooling or bike or walk for better health, should the province’s own employees not be part of the solution? To start, provincial employees should pay the same parking fees that other City commuters face. Free parking might be offered to those arriving with a full car.
I suspect such measures will reduce the need for any new parking, and might even leave available spaces for visitors, who currently have no chance to find a spot while they conduct business at the Provincial buildings.
What I see is a perfect opportunity for the government to show that creative approaches can make a difference – preserve the park AND help the environment at the same time.