Pitting parking against downtown development

The city wants to make erecting buildings easier and parking harder. Monday, during a open house on parking and increasing density downtown, officials presented plans to reduce the parking requirements associated with new building construction.

The city wants to make erecting buildings easier and parking harder.

Monday, during a open house on parking and increasing density downtown, officials presented plans to reduce the parking requirements associated with new building construction.

Currently, downtown developers must provide parking spaces within a 100-metre radius of a building.

The city has proposed changing this to 300 metres.

“Rather than empty parking lots, we’d like to see more development,” said Ben Campbell, city planner.

And, if you want to change your building’s designation to commercial from residential, you could dodge, or limit the existing parking stall requirements if the city plan is approved.

Last spring, the Bonanza Hotel owners successfully lobbied the city to reduce the building’s parking footprint when they created more office and retail space in the former Taku Bar.

“It’s a lot of money,” said Campbell. Coast Mountain Sports would have needed roughly 17 new stalls and each parking stall can cost about $18,000.”

The parking requirement didn’t exist before 1991, said Campbell.

“We’re just going back to the way things used to be,” he said.

But the idea of changing parking requirements left some people at the open house wondering where they would leave their car when they came downtown.

“I think these (parking amendments) will drive people away from stores,” said Bruce Ross.

“The downtown is where people meet each other and if you want people to come downtown then you need to provide buildings with parking. This will kill the downtown, it’s been happening all across Canada” he said.

But it may just be a perceived lack of parking said Campbell.

“We just want to remove financial barriers for developers and increase development downtown. We’re not taking away any stalls.”

The city is also considering changing the zoning for the area bounded by First and Fifth avenues and Ray Street and Black Street.

In a previous public-input sessio