|Plans to change some elements of parking requirements in the downtown
core made for a Public Hearing on Monday evening
Monday's Public Hearing to explore plans to make changes to parking regulations for some areas of the downtown core provided opportunity for comment from the public, with two Prince Rupert residents taking to the microphone to share some thoughts.
|Planning Manager Myfannwy Pope reviewed the proposed changes
for Council as part of the Public Hearing
The process for the 6 PM session began with a synopsis of the plan from Planning Manager, Myfannwy Pope who highlighted the key elements that would make for much of the discussion on the night.
"Council has approved an interim parking management strategy that characterize and proposed strategies to address parking issues in Prince Rupert's downtown.
One of these recommendations was to introduce a parking specified area in Prince Rupert's Downtown where new commercial and mixed use developments were exempted from minimum parking requirements.
The proposed bylaw enacts these changes:
The waiving of these requirements within the parking specified area would mean that developers are no longer required to provide the specified number of parking stalls or pay in lieu fees for new buildings that are commercial, office or mixed use within this area.
This does not prevent developers from providing additional off street parking if desired and it does not affect existing parking, or existing businesses.
This change would be introduced to ensure that there is no loss of existing parking as the waiving only applies to new commercial offices or mixed use buildings provided existing parking is maintained.
All existing parking regulations outside of the specified area would remain in place.
And all other sections in section nine of the zoning bylaw regarding standards and ratios for bicycle, accessible parking, loading and electrified parking requirements are still applicable in the specified area and outside"
Much of Mayor Herb Pond's early commentary on the topic was lost to the audio gremlins, the Mayor finally finding his voice, so to speak, about eight minutes into the twenty minute Hearing.
So whatever wisdom to the topic he had to share previously, was limited to those personally in the room.
However when he turned to those in the City Council Chamber in attendance for the Hearing, they were in full voice.
|City resident and business owner Terry Sawka raised a number of
questions related to the proposed changes as part of the Public Hearing
Terry Sawka was the first to speak to the issue, of note to him was whether the bylaw changes would be applicable to buildings in the downtown core that may be looking to add apartments.
"Is this applicable to current buildings in the downtown core that would want to put residential apartments in the upper level, would that apply to them as well? ... If I have a building and I have retail downstairs and I want to put in apartments upstairs then I'm going to have to provide parking space"
City Manager, Doctor Robert Buchan observed that the bylaw change would apply to such a project as he had described previous.
A second participant, called attention to concerns he has related to his business in the 300 block of Third Avenue West, speaking towards issues related to parking in the vicinity.
"The fact is we have a real problem with Parking, some people who work on this street will park on Third Avenue all day. And we have Seniors, sometimes they buy stuff and new have to load it out for them and sometimes its furniture. It becomes a real problem with parking, the only choice we have is to double park and it lines up the traffic behind us.
Or Sometimes if they bring in donations you know they have to go down a block or two blocks away to pack stuff down.
It's a real problem and we'd like to see something done about it. Whether ti be a loading zone put in or a limit on parking"
The business owner expanded a bit further towards the issue, noting how he had applied for a loading zone a year ago and so far nothing has happened towards that request.
Mr. Sawka returned with one more observation to the topic, asking how the city plans to facilitate parking with the exemptions that they have in mind.
He also observed as to some recent changes to the amount of time allowed to park on Second Avenue west along the Ocean Centre block between City West and the Post Office Building.
He also noted that with few parking options in the downtown area available, businesses will be impacted, noting that the City did have an opportunity to purchase land for a parkade but that did not happen.
Doctor Buchan recommended that any discussion on the questions that had been raised should take place during the course of the Regular Council session consideration of the bylaw.
In response to a question from the Mayor on what he thinks of the bylaw proposal and if he was in favour of it, Mr. Sawka offered his concerns over how with plans to create more living space in the downtown core, there would be added pressures on parking availability.
Noting in particular in areas along Third with no back lane access where those tenants would have to park on the street.
Among some of his notes was how those requiring short term parking options may run afoul of parking restrictions and be ticketed as he seemingly had been in a recent travel into the downtown core.
Councillor Cunningham concurred with some of those thoughts and concerns and noted how the bylaw may help spur on development, the issue of parking hasn't been solved as of yet.
Some background on the Parking plans can be reviewed from the Rupert Talks portal.
The full Public Hearing can be reviewed from the City's You Tube Video Archive below:
The topic will be followed up on as part of a Regular Council Session to come in the future, though there was no indication as part of the Public Hearing when the topic will be addressed by Council.
Of note related to the Public Hearing on parking in the downtown area, was an element of potential future development that we noted of on Tuesday.
That of a pair of Request for Expressions of Interest submitted to BC Bids on Monday by the city towards development of Non Market Housing in the downtown core.
In one instance in an area of land of interest for one of the Public Hearing participants.
Considering the impact of the parking question under discussion, having those proposals introduced into the conversation and exploring the scope of those RFP's might have been a helpful element towards the topic under consideration.
But now it makes for something which will have to wait and perhaps will frame some of the narrative going forward when the bylaw changes return to Council in a Regular Session.
More notes related to Council themes can be reviewed from our Council Discussion archive page.