Summerside city council spent a long time, Tuesday night, discussing an issue that really should be laid at the door of the federal government and in particular Revenue Canada – employee parking at the Summerside Tax Centre.
The lack of adequate parking spaces for tax centre workers has been a problem for several years. Simply put, there are more employees than there are parking spaces.
This has led to workers parking along both sides of Pope Road and Greenwood Drive and has created some serious safety issues for the travelling public and businesses in the area. At that same meeting, council, acting on a request from Wiebel Aerospace, removed seven parking spaces on Greenwood Drive so tractor-trailer trucks could safely access and exit the business.
Councillors then got into a discussion about what the city could do to help alleviate the parking problem.
Past discussions about allowing tax centre workers to park at Credit Union Place and then be shuttled to work, went nowhere.
Mayor Basil Stewart brought up the number of jobs the tax centre has created in the city and the fact that 100 additional temporary employees have been brought in to deal with income tax filings and returns.
The mayor said he was concerned that if the city didn’t have enough available parking for large numbers of employees, then these types of companies or agencies could look elsewhere to locate.
“It’s great to have these additional 100 jobs, in order to see that place grow, we should do everything we can do to make sure that we have the parking for them,” Stewart said. “We wouldn’t want to have to hear anybody say we can’t expand the tax centre in Summerside anymore because there’s no parking. I’ll be up front and say we’ll find the parking, if they keep bringing in those kinds of numbers.”
City taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for providing parking for federal government employees. The onus for that falls on the federal government.
Councillor Peter Holman said Summerside developer Peter Brown owns land near the tax centre and has proposed to use it for parking. However, it appeared as though, based on statistics from similar agencies across the country, there is more than ample parking at the tax centre, so the federal government was not too interested in pursuing any other avenue.
The role the city could play is to make land available for the federal government to lease or purchase but not to be the sole provider for tax centre employee parking or footing the bill for a shuttle service.
The city’s main responsibility is to ensure that the streets within Summerside are safe for all to travel, even if that means eliminating parking spaces to do so.