Best place to start, free parking and nice green area
If you want a free parking place and going to padlle in Ghent. The best place is to go to the Blaarmeersen. Free parking, enough place to build the canoe. And you will just enjoy one of the most green places in Ghent without having all the touristic boats passing by.
Also enjoy the green island at the Coupure and the waterbirds around it.