Vacant parking spaces are a premium in Canberra's southern suburbs. Photo: Pat Scala
Community and church services in and around a proposed Parliamentary Triangle paid parking scheme are concerned the plan could lead to further encroachment on already tight space for their own patrons should it go ahead.
Wesley Uniting Church on National Circuit in Forrest had already discussed putting in boom gates to protect its parking lot, and said they expected the number of parking enquiries to grow if the National Capital Authority's parking plan went ahead.
The church property manager, who asked not to be named, said she spends some mornings out patrolling the car park, and often has to ask people to leave.
“We don't have to wait for a new budget announcement, it's impacting on us every day now as it is,” she said.
The church offers 70 spaces through a paid-permit system below the commercial rate, and said it is already full with a 12 month wait list for new spaces to open up. The rest of the car park is supposed to be kept strictly for use by people attending church activities, such as funerals.
But the permit system and signs in the car park don't stop commuters and people who need to use nearby services trying to park in the reserved spaces.
“We're trying to run a church, this was never meant to be as big as it's got. But we're trying to help the community by offering car parking,” she said.
“We've got a sign up at our gate which says private property, which it is, which says authorised parking only … but human beings don't read signs, that's a fact.
“People are desperate to park, they have to get to work by a particular time, they are mindful that they are late and might be a bit stressed, they can't find a car park, and they think they might give Wesley a go and see if they can get away with it.”
In Russell, Clare Holland House, which is owned by ACT Health and run by Calvary Health Care, is concerned the plan could cause encroachment of parking into the hospice parking lot.
“We have had early conversations with the National Capital Authority, and we will continue to discuss our concerns and also intend to make a submission to the public consultation process,” ACT Health said in a statement.
“All parties are committed to ensuring the needs of patients, family and visitors, volunteers and the Clare Holland House staff are considered and treated appropriately.”
A community organisation within walking distance of Woden, which asked not to be identified for fear of people discovering their parking lot, said the issues have been visible in the area for some time, as workers look to avoid paying for parking.
A spokesman for the organisation, which provides health support, said there had been at least two occasions in recent memory when their car parks became full and clients couldn't easily access parking.
He predicted organisations' car parks around the Parliamentary Triangle would be impacted in a similar manner if paid parking was introduced.
He said the organisation had taken the issue up with the Community Services Directorate, and would monitor the situation closely. Timed parking would be the next step, but the spokesman said it would only be feasible if it could be policed.