Businesses are concerned the creation of 16 new disabled parking spaces in Wagga’s main street will worsen the city’s parking problem.
While people generally welcomed improved access for people with a disability, there was a worry about the increased pressure on contentious inner-city parking, which had been a point of contention for years.
Despite official studies finding ample parking at peak times, the experience of many shoppers and business owners was quite different.
Peter Halicki from Collins Booksellers said the worsening parking squeeze would simply drive shoppers out of the CBD.
“About half of the people downtown are from small towns outside Wagga… and many CBD shoppers need a vehicle as the quantity of goods they purchase would be extremely difficult to carry on public transport, particularly if they have dairy and frozen goods,” Mr Halicki said
“Inability to travel by car can limit the amount of shopping they do. Having a successful retail business means being competitive in the global economy and driving into town, parking, shopping and maybe having lunch needs to be more attractive to customers than shopping online.”
Wagga Business Chamber manager Anabel Williams said she had heard parking complaints from a number of businesses, particularly at the southern end of Baylis Street.
“I think we need to invest in some solution, to either change the amount of time people can park for or build a new multi-storey car park, because at the moment businesses are bearing the cost,” Mrs Williams said.
“We need to encourage people to shop in the CBD otherwise they’ll go to the big chains in the shopping centres or go elsewhere.”
Councillor Rod Kendall said Wagga’s long, drawn out CBD presented a unique problem, so building one parking station wouldn’t solve everyone’s problem. Instead, he suggested a need to look at how to better use existing parking areas that didn’t get much use through the work week.
“I would suggest instead of looking at a simple fix we need a better strategy, it’s not enough to simply say we need more,” Cr Kendall said.
“Maybe some sort of shuttle bus could be a solution, but we need the buy-in from other levels of government as we’re no longer a town, we’re a city with city issues and they need to invest in solutions.”