By Jennifer Hoegg
When parking is on the Kentville council agenda, hairdressers are inevitably mentioned.
“We only have two hour parking,” Cheryl Mason explained. “A perm will take two-and-a-half hours, foils three-and-a-half.”
A perm and colour? Four hours, according to the hairstylist In Style Hair Designs.
“We get them halfway through, wrap their head in a towel and get them out to move their car,” Mason said.
Some hairdressers in town said they move customers’ vehicles for them; others have paid clients’ tickets.
Younger customers and staff can park in the all-day parking lots, Mason said.
“If you can walk around, that’s fine,” but for seniors and those with mobility issues, it’s too far away, Mason said.
“Some of them say, ‘why should I park here (and get a ticket) when I can park all day in New Minas for free?’” Mason’s colleague Holly Taylor added.
For a self-employed stylist, losing even one customer is a big deal.
“People get frustrated,” Mason said. “And to lose money because of parking is really frustrating.”
The solution? Make on-street parking three hours, Mason said.
Down the block at That’s the Look Hair Studio, stylist Lorelei LaFrance agreed.
“We need three hour parking – bottom line,” she said. Parking passes for customers could also work, she added.
“Something needs to be done,” LaFrance added. “It’s a huge issue. They should tear down the (former) hardware store or the Edge and get more parking or bring back the meters.”
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The issue isn’t just about salon clients, Beleaf spa owner June Pardy said. It’s about the feel of the downtown.
“When our focus is on getting that ticket on someone’s car when they have been there for two hours and 15 minutes, we have lost focus of what it takes to be a sustainable business community,” she said.
Strict parking enforcement doesn’t encourage people to come to Kentville to shop, have lunch or visit the farmers’ market, Pardy pointed out.
“I believe we have trained consumers to not spend more than two hours in Kentville,” she added. “We almost have to go hard the other way to bring people back in.
“No one is winning over a $15 ticket.”
Pardy also owns a salon in Wolfville, where she said she feels the parking environment is completely different.
“Our perception has been the town has been very flexible in enforcement of their parking policy,” Wolfville Business Development Corporation director David Hovell said. “There is a little bit of give and take in exceptional circumstances.”
Wolfville moved to three-hour parking in most of town – in addition to four all-day parking lots – from two hours in 2011.
“I would say generally it’s a much more improved system,” Hovell said.
He noted Wolfville does have parking challenges as its downtown grows, including a need for more all-day spaces and better marketing of off-street parking lots.