When a penny saved is a penny wasted

There is a bias against spending money. It’s natural. We all want to get more bang for our bucks. But sometimes, a penny saved is a penny wasted. Take Parking for example.

Image result for dingy underground parkingWhen I opened my law firm, I naturally thought that Downtown Brampton would be the ideal place for my office. I really thought it would be convenient for me to have walking access to almost every bank, to have walking access to coffee shops and other meeting places outside my office for client discussions, walking access to the Brampton Board of Trade, walking access to City Hall for property searches and discussions with the planning department. And I was right, it was very convenient … for me. But my clients hated it.

It didn’t matter how many times I told them all about the various places they could park. For my clients, the parking was a problem, and a disincentive to use my business again in the future. But I miss my old office space, and over time, I have thought a lot about the parking situation in Four Corners. After all, if it has so much parking (and it does), why did my customers not see the same parking that I see?

There are many reasons, of course, but I think there three front and center factors:

  • the lack of Green P signage;
  • Paid parking, the only of its kind in the entire city, whereas customers can park for free, with no worry about the one hour limit, literally anywhere else in the City; and
  • the parking in Four Corners is either underground or in an above ground cement “prison bunker” which, for all intents and purposes, is an underground parking lot.

I have discussed this situation with a number of my other business owner colleagues, and we have developed a consensus: people don’t like being Underground. It’s like being dead.

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How people perceive it

As pictured above, Brampton’s above ground is not like parking lots. It is large, Cement, lacks windows on two sides, the open air “windows” receive little to no sunlight due to the bearing of the building and surrounding buildings. The windows face onto the back end of the downtown buildings, none of which were built with the aesthetics of the rear view in mind. Inside is not much better. It is poorly lit, the stairs are narrow and not regularly cleaned, and there is no elevator. It is dark, dingy, and ugly, inside and out.

I realize there were a great number of lofty ideas of that structure being part of future structures, or incorporated into later phases of development. But in terms of user experience, we made a grave error when we didn’t invest in a parking structure that added to the cache of downtown. We may have saved a penny, but it was a penny wasted.
I would remodel this structure. I would add an elevator, and paint the inside in bright and welcoming colors.

eurekacarpark01

I would ensure it was well lit, well maintained and would transform it from part of the problem to part of the solution. Because parking doesn’t have to be a utilitarian exercise in misery.

A parking garage can, in fact, be somewhere you might pause to take in the view, appreciate a sunrise, or enjoy meeting up with your cycling team before a day’s ride. You may not linger long, but you might at least leave feeling safe, secure and like you are a welcome visitor in the Downtown Core.

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