We continue to hear complaints about the lack of parking on the retail strips of midtown Toronto. It is even sometimes blamed for the local shops losing business to the shopping centres and the big box stores with their huge parking lots.
We are quite sympathetic to this. And in some areas of midtown the crush is so dire that there appear to be no immediate solutions.
However, in several areas we fear shoppers are not taking advantage of parking that is available in the area.
For example, take the Bayview Avenue strip south of Eglinton Ave. E. that forms the commercial backbone of Leaside.
On days when Bayview is fully parked up and cars are trolling the strip for an opening — which is just about any day — we’ve found the three parking lots at the Millwood Road corner have plenty of space.
On a recent Thursday at 11 a.m., the underground parking below the TD Canada Trust bank, the lot above the bank and the city lot immediately south of the bank all featured more empty spaces than parked cars.
On a subsequent Saturday at about noon hour — with Bayview buzzing with life — we took the pictures at right in the same lots. More cars were parked there, as expected. But still we saw four spaces underground, five spaces above, and seven in the open lot. That’s 16 spaces in total.
We monitored them for an hour and they never came close to filling up.
This mirrors what we’ve found in several other midtown areas, such as along Bloor Street W. where shops say business has fallen off since some parking was removed to make way for bike lanes. While drivers and merchants bemoan the lack of parking on the streets in front of the shops, nearby lots just off the strips go wanting business.
Ah, “off the strips” — no wonder people don’t park there. Who wants to walk all that way? Yet, many people will park blocks away in the residential areas, where parking is free, and then trek over to the main drag.
We are left with trying to make better use of the facilities we currently have. We should encourage our customers and neighbours to better use the locally available parking lots.
Then, if they are filled, we can go back to our complaining.