I recently had occasion to organize and participate in a process opposing a “LoLo” BIA “Negative Petition Bylaw”.
Canvassing the LoLo business community I quickly became aware that the single greatest obstacle to the success of the LoLo business community can be summarized as “Parking”.
It’s very apparent that there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to the issue of parking. Examples of the varied needs of the business community were many. Florists summed up their needs as 15-30 minutes free parking availability, where hairdressers and dentists seek pay parking systems of up to 2 hour in duration. All want reasonable and not downtown rates. Coffee shops and café’s want 1 hour free parking, dinner restaurants want free parking roadside after 6:00 pm, with no term limitation. Universally, the business community all say there is simply not enough parking. Without the availability of increased parking, the LoLo business community will continue to languish.
When asked for input on the position that LoLo clients should arrive by public transit, bicycle or on foot, the response was nearly universal laughter. In reply, grocers talked about the inability to move within the LoLo geography with a full load of groceries on a bicycle. The doctors and dentists discussed the fact their clients often came with multiple children (mom or dad and the kids), which was simply not feasible on a bicycle. The hair salons’ talked about the likelihood that a client, having spent hundreds on a new “doo” would then stuff it into a bicycle helmet to commence the sweaty trek up Lonsdale hill, in the rain. Each businessperson and type posed a scenario which revealed the current proposals for bus and bike solutions to parking issues will not address their needs. Further, they also acknowledge, City council is not listening to them on this issue.
The parking issue generally throughout the City has been made far worse by the failure to compel developers to include within the project the actual number of parking stalls necessary to house the cars which arrive with the sale of each new condo unit. These developers, on advice from council and staff, provide only a single parking stall with each new condo unit, while in reality the occupants have two vehicles. The outcome is, one vehicle parks street side while the other parks underground. The vehicle which uses street parking takes away from the available space needed for the business communities client base. The effect is that business precincts like LoLo lose their clients to the larger malls where parking is free and plentiful. The City’s failure/refusal to ensure that each new development has sufficent parking capacity to meet its needs has harmed the viability of our business community.
Residential parking in RS-1 multi dwelling neighbourhoods is also becoming a problem. The City has begun to approve duplex and triplex housing without the necessary parking stalls. Residential neighbourhoods allready suffer from parking issues from the growing proliferation of secondary suites, and a failure by the City to compel the provision of adequate parking needs to be addressed. I do not support placing further presure on these neighbourhoods by allowing more density without compelling sufficent parking within the lot lines seeking greater legal density. I am not proposing that we begin policing this issue, in any other way than on a complaints based basis. However, I oppose making the situation worse by allowing the proliferation of coach-houses or in-fill houses, in conjunction with secondary suites, while at the same time relying solely on the exiting road side parking. The proponent must make sufficent parking available for the residential capacity of his/her/their residential address, or fail in their application for up-zoning. This is my position because street parking is already to dear to allow the issue to deteriorate any further
IT IS MY POSITION THAT the issue of a long term and viable parking strategy is essential to the success of the City’s business community. To bring about a long-term solution to this issue, I would;
- Implement a region specific dialogue wherein the business community in each area representing each business category, came together to arm-wrestle amongst themselves the development of a parking strategy for their respective BIA geography. The strategy would seek to reflect their cumulative needs. This plan will likely call for a mix of free and pay parking, with varied intervals, and varied price points, designed to reflect, availability, affordability and competitive realities.
- I would initiate this dialogue through the use of the area specific “BIA” working groups proposed as being under the umbrella of the Chamber. I would envision these working groups would then formulate a plan which would come forward for each business precinct to council for ratification and implementation by the City.
- I would seek a dialogue with business in relation to parking that was updated annually, via refinement, based on the BIA working groups recommended adjustments, designed to reflect their changing needs and demographic.
- I do not support the retention of consultants to tell the City’s businesses what they need or want. It is my experience that the City’s entrepreneurs are comprised of strong-willed business savvy people, very capable of formulating and conveying their needs in a professional and succinct manner. The City need only take the time to listen to those needs, and to facilitate the plan for implementation. Let the business community design the solutions which best fit their particular needs!
- I do not support residential (RS-1 and multi unit) up-zoning where the proponent(s) intend to rely on street parking as the resolution for the increased needs resulting from the up-zoning application.
When I find myself in a position to effect change, the policies setout above will guide my decision-making.