8 April 2021

"Punished for our success": the parking crisis at Garran Shops

| Lottie Twyford
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Parking at Garran

Hot property: getting a park at Garran shops isn’t easy and it’s affecting local businesses. Photos: Lottie Twyford.

It’s no secret to locals that the Garran shops are thriving at all times of the week. But business owners say they have a serious parking problem, and it’s both dangerous and affecting businesses.

Customers are often forced to do multiple laps of the car park searching for a spot, and accidents and incidences of road rage are common.

Brett Davis, the owner of café Little Garran, is also concerned about its impact on business. After all, when there are not enough spaces, people will be forced to go elsewhere.

“It’s like we are being punished for our success. To keep the growth going, we need the government to step up and provide the infrastructure needed to sustain growth and traffic,” he said.

Local business owners Brett Davis and Julie Sluce are concerned about the growing parking crisis at Garran shops.

Julie Sluce from the neighbouring Garran Dry Cleaners says this problem has been getting worse over the last 30 years.

“It’s so bad at the moment that customers are having to remain in their vehicles, call me, and I run out to give them their dry-cleaning or to collect their garments.”

She says this is not a sustainable business model.

Mr Davis voiced these concerns in a letter to Minister for City Services Chris Steel, who is also a Member for Murrumbidgee, the electorate in which Garran falls, but he’s yet to receive a response.

Mr Davis is frustrated, saying the “silence and the arrogance is deafening”.

In a statement to Region Media, Mr Steel said the ACT Government is aware of and “understands the need for parking to support our local community centres, as well as the need to maintain safe road access for drivers and other road users”.

The Minister notes he has already requested more frequent parking enforcement at Garran shops to encourage parking turnover.

However, business owners agree that the response is not increased policing, as neither wants customers to take their business elsewhere, and both are relatively certain that although some hospital staff do park in Garran for the entire day, they have a negligible impact.

Likewise, Mr Davis says reducing the time limit on the 2P spots to half an hour is unhelpful as it penalises businesses.

“We want people to come along to the Medical Centre for an appointment and then stay around, pick up a few things from the shops, drop off their dry cleaning and have a coffee, without worrying about parking tickets.”

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Like Mr Davis, Mrs Sluce has contacted various ministers over the years and was successful in getting some increased parking out the back of the shops. She says originally there were plans to build a proper car park behind the shops, but she has repeatedly been told that the response is just for people to park in the streets of Garran.

But this is not the solution, she says, as even this is often full, and it’s causing a real headache for residents who find it difficult and now dangerous to leave their homes.

For Mr Davis, the situation in Garran has become the “perfect storm” and he references the developments at the hospital, its proximity to a busy school and the medical services operating at the shops.

Both say they are not complaining that Garran shops has become an “axis” for the Canberra Hospital but is concerned that little thought has gone into the development, particularly since a Medical Centre was introduced.

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They’re calling on the government to introduce appropriate infrastructure to support growth in the area and improve safety.

“Some members of the public actually get out of their own vehicles to berate owners of 4WDs and demand they move onto the grassy verge, which is an illegal park in itself.”

There are many accidents, and she suggests the introduction of speed bumps or one-way parking rules to improve safety.

Around eight weeks ago, Mr Davis said the nearby Church of Latter-day Saints blocked off its 150-spot car park, saying they could not accept liability for people parking there anymore.

Since then, the Garran shops’ car park has borne the brunt of the increased traffic.

Catherine Joseph, the owner of the local IGA, calls it a “crisis for residents and business owners” and, after coordinating the efforts of local business owners, says Opposition Member Guilia Jones has expressed an interest in their dilemma.

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Parking is a difficult problem. I go to the medical centre in Garran and parking is often difficult. We have the same problems at Curtin shops, and I expect it to get worse when the new development opens. The ACT Government just tells us to park on nearby streets or in nearby church carparks. This last is not a solution, as the closest church carpark has put up a notice saying that the carpark is for church and school users only.

I’m a local and now go to the nearby Hughes shops instead. Can always find a park their.

ChrisinTurner11:46 am 10 Apr 21

The Church of Latter-day Saints must be one of the few churches in Canberra not making sorely needed revenue from parking.

HiddenDragon6:47 pm 09 Apr 21

“Around eight weeks ago, Mr Davis said the nearby Church of Latter-day Saints blocked off its 150-spot car park, saying they could not accept liability for people parking there anymore.

Since then, the Garran shops’ car park has borne the brunt of the increased traffic.”

Perhaps the ACT government could stir itself from its slumbers and pursue a deal with that Church to re-open the car park as paid parking, policed by government inspectors, and with all net revenue going to the Church. The inspectors could also, by the sounds of it, direct their attentions to existing public parking at the Garran shops.

The broader issue floating around in this story is private car usage vs. “active transport”. If there’s to be any real shift, at all, in this, the ACT government needs to lead by example, starting with MLAs, and extending throughout its workplaces, rather than continuing to rely on “do as I say, not as I do” nagging and finger wagging about the evils of private car usage – an approach which the general public understandably treats with a large dose of cynicism.

It’s everywhere. Surely it couldn’t be government policy to discourage the use of cars.

I stopped going to my local Deakin shops due to parking difficulties and then started going to Garran. Now they’re getting just as bad.

Went to Erindale a few times lately and even parking there was a complete nightmare. Wanniassa shops car park with Coles and Jordo’s was also full, but it was not full from customers but from people driving to and parking at the Rapid bus stop on Athlonn because the government took away their suburban bus stop near their house.

Anyone who has tried to find parking at Garran shops or in the vicinity will know how difficult it is to get access. Parking in surrounding streets is all taken. I have gone to Garran, been unable to get parking and had to go elsewhere. I think the problem is that parking was not expanded when the medical centre was built. It got worse and worse after that.

russianafroman9:35 pm 08 Apr 21

They’re not building car parks because they want people to use public transport. Simple as that.

Unfortunately this is an increasing problem across Canberra. It is about time the Government did some decent town planning so these problems don’t keep coming up.

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