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Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Vic city council wants more parking—outside the downtown core

“The most realistic outcome of this motion is that city staff work with private developers to get additional public parking in new developments," said Coun. Matt Dell.

Mark Brennae
May 24, 2024
City Hall
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Vic city council wants more parking—outside the downtown core

“The most realistic outcome of this motion is that city staff work with private developers to get additional public parking in new developments," said Coun. Matt Dell.

Mark Brennae
May 24, 2024
Victoria City Hall. Photo: City of Victoria
Victoria City Hall. Photo: City of Victoria
City Hall
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Vic city council wants more parking—outside the downtown core

“The most realistic outcome of this motion is that city staff work with private developers to get additional public parking in new developments," said Coun. Matt Dell.

Mark Brennae
May 24, 2024
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Vic city council wants more parking—outside the downtown core
Victoria City Hall. Photo: City of Victoria

Given the city’s mission to “pedestrianize” downtown, as Coun. Matt Dell put it yesterday, it has to be mindful of the effect that has and will have on downtown businesses.

“We’re not asking to build something, spend any money,” Dell told the committee of the whole yesterday.

He and Coun. Dave Thompson asked for—and received with unanimous support—the green light to direct city staff to find more parking just a smidgeon outside downtown, in an attempt to create more of a park-and-ride ethos in the city.

Dell said the impetus for the motion he and Thompson put forward stemmed from the recently announced push to expand the Douglas bus lanes fully into downtown, south to Humboldt, which will supplant some on-street parking.

“What do we do to those displaced people, the people who are coming downtown who are either parking in that spot or driving in those lanes,” Dell told Capital Daily on Wed. “How do we make sure that they’re still coming into the downtown core?” 

Originally, the motion called for city staff to look at options north of the downtown core, but that was deemed limiting.

“I think the north side of downtown is logical but I also think that there are other potential areas as well,” Mayor Marianne Alto said. 

In the search for parking, Alto reminded the committee that BC Transit has promised a park-and-ride for its new exchange coming to Uptown. She also said precedent had been set for a private development providing public paid parking, which may be where this search for parking eventually leads, Dell tells Capital Daily.

“The most realistic outcome of this motion is that city staff work with private developers to get additional public parking in new developments, which could be done by providing developers with additional density of temporary tax breaks,” he said. “This means the city could get additional parking for lower costs.”

A chance to be creative

Jeff Bray, CEO of the Greater Victoria Business Association, called it an opportunity to creatively find more near-downtown parking by incentivizing commuters—who don’t have kids or mobility issues—to park near downtown and get a lift further in.

“And as part of their monthly parking spot, they get a bus pass that gets them, you know, the last seven or eight blocks into town, and then take their current monthly parking spot in the core and open that up for customers and clients,” Bray tells Capital Daily. “It could be a win-win,” he said.

“We may see a shift, people who live say in Oaklands, or Fairfield or James Bay, how they come into downtown, and that's great. We should encourage that but we're still going to have people coming in from North Saanich from Colwood, who are not going to be looking to do furniture shopping on their cargo bike.”

So businesses want more parking. Check

One of the ideas that surfaced involved putting a parkade in the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre parking lot, which Bray said would be convenient. 

“You walk down and you're into Old Town and Chinatown, and LoJo, very quickly, or a couple blocks south and you're at Fort and Blanshard, you know, Yates and Blanshard.”

Coun. Chris Coleman said a three-storey car park at the hockey arena would net an extra 550-600 parking spaces and also would address surge parking requirements—when there is dramatically more demand for parking spots, usually due to an event.

Coleman revisits the issue three decades later

Coleman said 30 years ago he sat on a council looking at planning downtown parking. Doing so again is an opportunity to look at options, including the possibility of public-private partnerships involving new developments, he said.

“It does suggest that we become partners in the process if we’re going to get a future revenue stream,” he said. “So we need to think about our ability to do that but to ask staff to report back on the opportunities I think is absolutely crucial.”

Also crucial Bray said, was ensuring people have confidence if they drive downtown they can find a parking spot. He pointed out the downtown core has lost some 2,200 private service parking lots which were redeveloped over the last 10 years and the city has lost a couple of hundred with infrastructure changes such as bike lanes.

The question of how much parking downtown needs would have to factor the scores of people working from home post-pandemic. Thompson updated the council on how busy the city’s five parkades—-Robbins has four—were when he checked the online parking availability and found “there’s more than 600 spaces available at 11:35[am] on a Thursday.”

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