Paid parking in Canberra has been a magnet for controversy and will continue to be so into the future with the city’s burgeoning population.
Most of us can well remember the outcry when the National Capital Authority introduced paid park into the Parliamentary Triangle in 2014.
To a certain extent, it is now accepted that if you park in that area, you will need to pay for the pleasure.
The latest flashpoint for paid parking is the cycling facility at Stromlo Forest Park.
In the latest budget, the ACT Government allocated funding for the design, paving and lighting of the current dirt car park.
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The ACT Government has stated that sealing the car park will improve safety and the efficient allocation of car spaces.
All very well and good, but the news hasn’t been greeted favourably on several fronts. The first is the prioritisation of the construction of a sealed car park over spending money on improving the cycling facilities at Stromlo.
This point has created plenty of debate on social media, as has speculation that paid parking will be introduced once construction is complete.
Fuelling the speculation was the response to a question on this issue in the ACT Legislative Assembly earlier this month.
In the Hansard account of his response, Transport Minister Chris Steel said, “There is an ongoing conversation that we are currently having about how we can make Stromlo Forest Park the best possible recreational facility for Canberra, for interstate visitors and Canberrans alike”.
“We have noted the model that is currently in existence at the Arboretum, where all of the revenue from the car parking, which is paid parking, is used to improve the fantastic facilities at the Arboretum. We are considering the range of options that might be available in relation to Stromlo Forest Park to make sure that the facilities there continue to get better over time.”
The reference to the Arboretum is important given the reasoning behind paid parking at that facility is so that money is put back into the facility.
I guess that means using the money raised from parking for running costs and possible upkeep.
So would paid parking at Stromlo become more palatable if the money was put straight back into improving the facility?
I have written about concerns within the Canberra off-road cycling community about building more mountain bike trails.
Perhaps this is one way to finance the construction, or should the funding allocated to the car park be put straight into building new trails and improving the existing facility?
Or will paid parking become a deterrent to cyclists using Stromlo Forest Park?
The ACT Government says extensive consultation has been occurring and will continue.
It is yet another chapter in the life of Stromlo Forest Park.