regulating courtesy

Today, Council received a letter from a citizen frustrated with the parking situation in her neighbourhood. She lives in an apartment building that doesn’t have enough parking spots to accommodate all its resident vehicles. But the neighbours in houses along the street, who all have large garages and driveways, pull hissy-fits when anyone from the apt. building parks in front of their house. They now park on the street themselves, leaving their driveways empty, just to prevent anyone else from parking in front of their house.

This is a perfect example of why I believe White Rock doesn’t have so much of a parking shortage problem as it does an parking attitude problem. These ideas that anyone has special privilege to the public property adjacent to their private property, and that the community should be expected to provide storage for their private property… it’s all ridiculous and creates tension between neighbours.

Most of the situations like this I’ve encountered throughout this city aren’t actually a case of a lack of parking, it’s selfishness and a lack of courtesy, often unwittingly, but the same nonetheless. Where there is a genuine lack of parking, I have found it almost always involves a building from the time before there were any parking requirements at all, or when parking requirements were much more relaxed than they are now. The only area where I think there is a genuine problem is on Marine Drive. But that was a conscious choice of the council of the day, and truly ought to be a consideration and conscious choice of people purchasing property in that area — buyer be warned.

I find it very very interesting that, when I visit what I would consider a mature community (been stable for more than a half century), there is less parking available than here in White Rock, but yet, less complaining about parking than here in White Rock. The difference is in attitude — sense of entitlement and willingness to share — neighbourliness.

I strongly believe that the recommendations that have come out of the Social and Culture Committees over the past couple years would go a long long way toward strengthening a culture of caring and sharing among neighbours… But they’re still sitting on a shelf, collecting dust, waiting, … I’ve brought them up at every Council planning session since I’ve been elected… but instead we choose to take shots at the symptoms and attempt to regulate the downstream problems rather than deal with the source. This letter is a perfect example of what happens when we neglect the culture and spirit of community — selfish individualism requiring government intervention.

The Economic Committee has been allocated gobs of funds, the Environment Committee has received some modest funding. I think we’re forgetting that the economy serves the social purpose — quality of life — not the other way around. Will social or arts committees ever be funded? They were the first to have a plan and first to ask for funding, but still remain unfunded with no commitment nor signal of intent to fund. Burning City resources reviewing parking requirements will only continue to detract from these committees’ work and do nothing to solve the actual problem — something government cannot regulate — a lack of courtesy among neighbours.

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