Stantec employees have been counting vehicles parked downtown as part of the City’s Downtown Parking Plan Update. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Whitehorse counting cars for downtown parking study

Ideas range from tweaking parking rules to building a parkade

There are roughly 4,400 parking spaces in downtown Whitehorse, but the city wants to know how many of those spaces are being used each day, and for how long.

According to Ben Campbell, planner with planning and sustainability services, it’s all part of the Downtown Parking Plan update.

The update has seen Stantec staff on foot in the core between Front Street and Sixth Avenue, and Ray Street and Hoge Street. They’re looking at on-street parking and lots, as well as metered and timezone parking stalls along the street.

A license plate recognition vehicle has assisted in the counts, which have been conducted on Wednesdays including Jan. 17, 24 and 31.

Each day focuses on a different area (north, south or commercial), and sees staff doing hourly rounds of parking spaces to determine which areas experience the most demand, and what times of day people are parking.

Campbell said the data gathered will help staff determine parking patterns in the core, and decide whether “to increase the amount (of parking), or use existing resources more efficiently, or pursue and promote sustainable transportation.”

“The overall idea is we can get sort of a new document that provides new direction for parking recommendations for the next 10 years,” said Campbell. “Likely the final product would be something that we would refer to rather than the 2011 plan.”

The 2011 downtown parking management plan found that while occupancy rates were as high as 90 per cent on Main Street between Front Street and Fourth Ave., there were underused spaces within two blocks.

The overall occupancy rate downtown was 64 per cent, suggesting, the plan found, that there were sufficient spaces to serve demand.

The plan made 26 recommendations. Of those, nine are underway. Four have seen no action. Thirteen have been completed, including defining class one and two bike parking in the zoning bylaw, developing a downtown parking map, and setting off-street parking rates at $160 per month.

Campbell said the update recommendations could range from simply focusing on better parking management (the cheapest and easiest option), to building a multilevel parkade (space at Steele and 2nd has been zoned to allow for a parking structure).

In addition to coming up with potential new strategies under the update, Campbell said the city hopes to get a better idea of the current number of parking spaces downtown.

There are three city-run lots near Main Street, but private lots are a grey area.

“There is a process of if you want to fully develop a parking lot for a pay parking,” he said. “We would do a development permit. Some lots have just sort of over historically continued on as informal parking areas.”

Once the on-the-ground work is finished, the public will be able to give feedback by way of an online survey.

Campbell said the goal is to complete the update by spring 2018.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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