The contrast in emotions is stark. Imagine you are on a high after watching your kids play junior sport. You arrive back to your car to find you have been fined for exceeding the time limit.
Or you have been to a major sporting event and again, make your way back to your car in a positive frame of mind only to discover you have been fined for overstaying in a car space.
We are encouraged to be spectators at sporting events or participate in sport and to actively support our children’s participation in sport. Yet there are times when you feel as though it is all too difficult. In some cases, there are very good public transport alternatives to driving but in some circumstances, public transport is not a viable option. When the parking is inadequate for specific sporting events in terms of time and spaces available, I can’t help but think that the event just acts as a revenue raiser through parking fines.
I raise this issue because the ACT Government will lift time-related parking restrictions around Manuka Oval for the Australia versus Sri Lanka cricket test from 1 to 5 February 2019.
In 2013, after a blitz by parking inspectors during the one-day international at Manuka, I received more complaints from spectators who were fined than for any other sport-related issue in the past 30 years in Canberra.
There was genuine outrage. Why encourage people to go to major sporting events, on one hand, then fine them for staying too long in timed parking areas? They could leave during the game and move their car, park again, and return to the event, but that is an onerous exercise.
I can understand people being fined for parking illegally on residents’ lawns and personal driveways around Manuka Oval and surrounds, but when it comes to people being fined around sports ovals for exceeding the time limit, that needs further thought.
The government lifted time-related parking restrictions around Manuka during the AFL night games, so I think common sense has prevailed when it comes to the test match. I can, on the other hand, understand the concerns about parking for the Manuka Pool during the test match. It could be possible to allocate parking across the road from the pool for people seeking to use those facilities. There are some ways forward that might not please everyone, but could help support those using facilities or attending events in the area. The local residents also need to be considered.
The obvious option would be to use public transport and consider linking public transport with major parking lots in each of the town centres.
As I said earlier, I am in support of the lifting of time-related parking restrictions around Manuka for major sporting events, given it is only for a short time period. Paid parking would still be enforceable and fines would still be issued for parking illegally.
The bigger associated issue though, is the lack of parking around many facilities in Canberra. This includes for other events as well as sport. People have been fined for parking on nature strips well away from the road when attending events such as school fetes and concerts. An exception to this is the parking that is available around the Canberra Theatre complex. Whenever I have been to the Theatre, I’ve managed to get a convenient parking spot, not too far from the Theatre entrance.
But parents have little option, for instance, at the netball complex at Lyneham if there is football being played on the ovals next door. It has been a nightmare to park given the light rail construction.
People who have been fined have contacted me to say they had no option but to park illegally because there was just nowhere else to park.
It is time to put some considerable thought into parking around suburban sports grounds on weekends during junior sport and around schools during events such as fetes and carnivals. Convenience, public transport, estimated crowd, possible length of stay, local residents and other facilities in the area need to be considered. Surely this can’t be too hard.