Whitehorse’s parking conundrum

Contrary to what angry downtown drivers may say, Whitehorse doesn't have a parking problem. What it has is a problem with how it manages its parking spaces. That's what the city's latest parking study has revealed.

Contrary to what angry downtown drivers may say, Whitehorse doesn’t have a parking problem.

What it has is a problem with how it manages its parking spaces.

That’s what the city’s latest parking study has revealed.

It’s the fifth parking study the city has done since 1997.

The most recent, $125,000 study points out that there are adequate parking spaces in the downtown area, just not in the right places.

Employees are clogging up spaces that should be reserved for short-term parking.

Victoria-based Boulevard Transportation, which did the study, recommends the city increase the amount of metered parking in the downtown area to limit employees who park their cars on the street all day.

But parking studies in 2002 and 2004 already urged the city to do just that.

Earlier studies, similar to the Boulevard Transportation study, also encouraged the city to improve its transit service and bike lanes so fewer people would be tempted to drive to work.

“It may seem like we’re re-iterating what we’ve done in the past,” said planner Ben Campbell.

“But this study is more comprehensive.”

The city is also responding to the increasing number of complaints it receives from frustrated drivers, he said.

Boulevard Transportation spent a day monitoring people’s parking habits in six different areas of the downtown core.

What it found is that at peak parking times – between 10 and 11 in the morning – only 64 per cent of all downtown parking spaces were filled.

Although 90 per cent of parking spaces on Main Street may have been taken, there were empty on-street spaces two blocks away.

New parking lots on the periphery of the downtown core would help alleviate the parking crunch, say Boulevard consultants.

So too would the introduction of daily parking lot prices, so people realize the actual cost of parking and are encouraged to bike or bus to work.

Earlier this week, planners announced that a plan to build a parkade at the corner of Steele Street and Third Avenue, which would have housed about 150 parking stalls, has now been postponed for about five years.

The city is banking that it’s soon-to-be revamped transit system will dampen some of the existing parking panic.

It will also try to negotiate parking incentive programs with some of the major downtown employers, said Campbell.

The city is accepting recommendations on its draft parking management plan until October 22. To check out the draft document go to www.whitehorse.ca

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

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