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Downtown business owners content after more parking spots available for customers

Business owners along 47 Street feel a weight is off their chests after blue "reserved" bags were taken off parking meters, permitting customers to park there again, as usual.

"We've had some customers coming back and they've been parking here. There's an increase again. It's all good again," said Elke Richter, owner of restaurant Elke's Table, on Tuesday.

On Sept. 21, Richter and other business owners on the street said the installation of the Covid drive-through testing tent in the parking lot behind the Primary Care Centre had reduced the number of parking spots available. Blue "reserved" bags were also placed over parking meters. The situation kept customers away and made it harder for patients to access their appointments at the Juniper Health Clinic.

Business owners along 47 Street are happy that the improved availability of parking spots since September has allowed more customers to return.
NNSL file photo

But just days after Richter publicly complained about the issue, she found things had changed for the better.

"I came in around 10 a.m, and then around noon there were no more coverings on the meters. It was right away and I was kind of impressed," she said.
"A week-and-a-half before that I (tried to talk to) the city. They said they would call me back and they didn't. I decided I wouldn't deal with the city anymore. Then I spoke to the media and it worked, and people were woken up."
City clerk Debbie Gillard confirmed that on Sept. 22 the bags were removed from parking meters along the street.
Neighbouring shop Mermaid and Moon Boutique has also seen more customers return since late September.
"More people have been able to park right outside my door and come in, which normally is pretty rare," said owner Meredith McNulty.
Although she's pleased that more parking is available, she thinks there should be more conversations with the city as the weather gets colder.
"As more people drive to work during the winter, it would be nice to have something designated for 47 Street or at least for the businesses here. I would like to see something more permanent for the businesses," said McNulty.
For Dr. Michael Bokor at Juniper Clinic, parking availability has been "much improved" since September, when many of his patients, some with mobility problems, were 10 to 15 minutes late for appointments because they had to park a few blocks away and walk to the clinic.
"Our patients can once again park easily," he said.