New pay-and-display parking will replace Brantford's free downtown parking. By Cody Hoffman

New pay-and-display parking will replace Brantford’s free downtown parking. By Cody Hoffman

On Monday, August 18,a meeting of Brantford’s Operations and Administrative Committee endorsed a new pay-and-display parking system to take place of the current free two- and three-hour on-street downtown parking. Parking meters will be dispersed, charging a rate of $1 per hour as of September.

If I were a cartoon character at the precise moment I read about this, my jaw would have smashed a whole in the ground.

First of all, this is happening to a broken downtown that has just begun to put its pieces back together after all these years. “Wow” has been the reoccurring word                                                                                                                          throughout my head.

Seven of the 11 committee members voted in favour. Councillor Richard Carpenter, one of the four members opposed, sounded as stunned as I was. “We’re just getting [downtown Brantford] going and I’d hate to see it go right back down,” said Carpenter.

Carpenter said that he saw no value in this new system. He could not explain one reason why this was implemented because he felt the members in favour did not explain the rationality well enough during the meeting. Carpenter did however mention that none of the councillors have to pay for their on-street parking. Otherwise, this new system will not affect them directly. Who could have guessed that one?

“I feel very confident in saying things are already decided in council at a bar before the meetings happen,” said Carpenter.

Well, that is just great. The poor businesses downtown will now have to suffer the committee’s consequences for their sick cash grab. Who in their right mind is going to pay for parking to go to a coffee shop? A restaurant? The library?

“It’s going to affect us big time, especially here in Brantford,” said Viplan Rudrasingham, owner of Rocklings Tap & Grill in Harmony Square. “We need more people downtown, but now they’re going to go to other places.”

Brantford’s on-street parking was one of the great unique things about our campus. Students that commute did not have to pay for parking on the days they had few classes, and part-time students could always park freely on-street since they only came for a class or two a day. We could even go home during Christmas or the end of the school year to drive in for our exams. Scratch all that now.

Commuting students will have to invest in the eight month parking permits offered through Laurier. These are listed to range from $253.15 for general to $361 for premium. Part-time students are not offered a lower rate. These are hardly affordable compared to the usual free 2-3 hours everyone is used to.

The school’s faculty are also to be affected, especially the part-timers. Parking permits used to be optional for professors but are now going to be necessary. Faculty parking permits do not offer eight-month permits, only one term or one year. A full-time faculty permit ranges from $379.75 for general to $844.94 for reserved each year, and part-time faculty are only offered general parking permits at $284.82 for the year.

Journalism is only offered through Laurier here at our Brantford campus, and guess what, students? Good luck getting interviews. It is hard enough to get people to spare their time to talk to us for an article, but now we have to ask them to pay to meet us at a downtown coffee shop? This could influence students to feel they have to meet their sources in their homes, which raises many safety issues.

This is honestly the most unexpected, selfish decision I have heard of our council making. It is now clear to me that our downtown’s success, local businesses, school faculty and students are not in the majority of this committee’s best interests.