City takes on downtown parking challenge

There are mixed responses to the city's proposal to change its downtown parking requirements. In June, the city announced it wanted to amend five of its zoning bylaws, two of which deal with downtown parking for businesses.

There are mixed responses to the city’s proposal to change its downtown parking requirements.

In June, the city announced it wanted to amend five of its zoning bylaws, two of which deal with downtown parking for businesses.

The city is seeking an increase in the radius of off-site parking for businesses from 100 to 300 metres.

That means a business would not have to ensure it has parking spaces in the immediate vicinity.

And any existing building seeking to change its zoning to commercial would not be required to have extra parking.

It is a decision that is meant to spur development said Mike Gau, head planner for the city.

“A lot of people in core commercial zones would be stuck because they wouldn’t be able to find land for a parking lot,” he said.

At an open house held in June, the city fielded comments from citizens. It found some people weren’t interested in walking farther to do their shopping, especially in the winter.

Others said the new parking requirements would encourage them to shop at big box stores instead and would create a shortage of parking downtown.

Even with the criticisms, there was generally positive support for all five zoning-bylaw amendments, said Gau.

Go directly to the parkade,

don’t land on free parking

The city wants to start charging you if you park on the lot at Black Street and Second Avenue.

This once-free parking lot may be turned into a temporary parkade if the city votes in favour of converting it at next week’s council meeting.

Fifty to 70 cars use the parking lot now, said city bylaw manager John Taylor, who said that parking demand is increasing.

“There are more people working in this area, which has changed the parking dynamic,” he said.

The city wants to see up to 150 parking spaces in the parkade and has said it would charge $50 a month per car, no electricity included.

The property the parking lot sits on is currently for sale, meaning permit holders could be given a 30-day notice to move their vehicles and find alternate parking.

“What is the reason for doing this?” said Councillor Dave Stockdale.

“Is this out of fairness or to recoup revenue? I’m just wondering about the philosophy behind this?”

One of the reasons is that city administration looked at the parking lot and said, “We can generate revenue on it,” said Taylor.

Converting the parking lot to a parkade will cost the city $10,000. (Vivian Belik)

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