Parking Could Get Tight in Downtown Squamish

downtown

The parking incentive bylaw, if passed, will enable commercial development without the developer having to provide for any parking.

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: March 21, 2014

There may be fewer parking spots available in the downtown core if council passes a downtown parking incentive program.

Council recently passed its tax exemption bylaw, giving property developers tax exemptions on new construction or renovation of existing buildings.

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But an additional incentive is also being considered: parking.

The council has on several occasions debated a parking incentive, but hasn’t approved it yet.

The parking incentive bylaw, if passed, will enable commercial development without the developer having to provide for any parking.

The incentive, however, will be restricted to the downtown core.

“It’s not really a problem if you want to park a block away, there is tons of parking in the downtown.” Coun. Chapelle

The approval of this bylaw will also mean developers won’t have to pay money in lieu of parking.

Outside this incentive zone, the district also plans to reduce the payments in lieu of parking from $6,000 to $4000.

Councillors are divided over the parking incentive, but the district staff is supportive, even touting its health benefits.

“Reducing parking requirements in downtown shifts the focus from car centric development to an emphasis on walking, biking and transit,” it said.

District calculates there is a surplus of 760 parking stalls in Squamish and they won’t erode even if the bylaw is passed.

Developers have long found providing parking to be a challenge, according to the district.

While flood construction levels impact underground parking viability, the cost of parking can even make a development unviable.

If council approves the parking bylaw, it won’t be the first time district will be providing such an incentive downtown.

There is already a precedent for this: The Cornerstone building on Cleveland Ave.

Normally, district requires developers to have one stall per 46 square metre.

For Cornerstone building, however, Squamish reduced the parking to .7 stalls.

A vigorous debate on the topic took place at a committee of the whole meeting last year. It revealed a council split on the incentives.

Coun. Bryan Raiser said he was uncomfortable reducing the parking requirement to zero.

He said parking is now an issue around the Cornerstone building.

“We gave them a ground breaking leniency, and now there is a parking issue around that building,” he said.

Doug Race, meanwhile, said he had no problem reducing it to zero.

“We are trying to encourage commercial and this will be a three-year window,” he said.

Coun. Susan Chapelle, who also owns an office space in the Cornerstone, said parking around the new building is a perceived problem.

“It’s not really a problem if you want to park a block away, there is tons of parking in the downtown,” she said.

The parking bylaw is expected to come before the council soon for discussion.

 

Comments

  1. Donny says:

    It is really quite incredible how much out of touch the Council is ; from drive- through to parking.
    We are rapidly becoming a population of old folks, who find it harder to get about as the years pass. It’s been a cold winter , and trudging through the weather to reach the Post Office and shops on our enforced “downtown” is a real task. Glibly , Susan says “so park a block away”, next we’ll be told to eat cake. Try to park near the post office where four spaces are given over to the handicapped,a police parking spot and a loading bay the last two rarely used, while us peasants have to go searching for somewhere to dump the car, blocks away, and brave the weather.
    I fully support the handicapped space for those who need it, but I challenge anyone of you to recall the last time you saw a person in wheelchair or crutches or someone with difficulty using the space. Usually the sticker is inside a huge vehicle that a handicapped person couldn’t possibly enter. People get those stickers for a granny that has never left the house in years. Handicapped parking has become a private joke for 90% of those using the space.

  2. Jason Bechard says:

    This issue could be solved by developers and the district really easy and still have plenty of parking downtown. PAY PARKING. Whistler does it, Vancouver does it, and hell even Bowen Island does it. The district has played nice guy to the people of Squamish for far too long and now its affecting their bottom line.

    Make the downtown public areas pay parking. If a business does not want that then they pay a premium to the district to have an agreed amount of spaces not paid for their customers. The city by-law people can do the patrols. Installing parking meters will be costly at first but once running should pay for themselves in a short period of time, they do have the City of Vancouver to ask for help to purchase and run the system after all. This will make ‘some’ money for the district, it will force people in cars to reconsider making 1 or 2 stops in the area…instead they will stay for a longer period. It will make some people change their habits and walk and bike downtown.

    As for handicapped parking. I just about lost my foot in 2008 and took me 2 yrs of rehabilitation. Do you think I could get a parking pass…HELL NO. These parking pass things need to be managed locally by a body that can monitor their distribution and use.

  3. tedprior says:

    I am surprised you did not mention that I have been very apposed to this incentive Gagan All the studies direct the district to acquire land for parking lots ,we have been saving for this for more than 10 years but have totally missed the boat on that one . This incentive will advantage the old Race + CO Doctors office building on Pemberton ave for starters. and the area could become like the River Stone Building taking up all the adjoining properties parking . This incentive goes against good planning but that was not told to us by staff, they watch us make bad decisions rather that say we are wrong for fear of there jobs ?? This incentive has made it to 3 reading before people realized we may have to do a review . Density is the incentive that we should be encouraging. Carage houses small lot subdivisions cut 50 ft lots in half small house with carage house, Clasina Van Blemmels development the Murieo development would be a good start . If parking gets bad people will not come down town …. Ted

    • Nate Dolha says:

      Bang on Ted, thanks! I agree we should be moving to small lots. Valleycliffe, for example, is full of 65 foot + lots that folks should be able to subdivide should they choose. It would bring gentle densification, reduce sprawl and make municipal services more efficient.

  4. larry mclennan says:

    Interesting comment & perspective Ted. You basically infer that, in this case (& I suspect ,many others) Council doesn’t know what they are making a decision on and, therefore , rely on staff to give them (Council) proper & informed direction. However, you also infer, staff only agrees with what it (staff) perceives Council wants to hear because “…fear of their jobs??” Who is it that instills such fear in the mindset of staff ? Presumably, its council members. If such a toxic atmosphere/relationship exists , it should be brought forward for resolution. As it is, assuming that your inferences regarding a disfunctional Council/staff relationship, the taxpayers of this District are being seriously mis-represented and served by both parties. PS- no big suprise at my end.

  5. Donny says:

    Wow, a chain link fence has just gone up around the spare land kitty corner to the new Medical Building , exactly where there is a shortage of space for parking.

    Now how mean and selfish can that be . If land owners have no plans to build, allow them a property tax break if they temporarily give the property over for parking.

  6. Dana says:

    I just think that above all, we should not do anything that would deter people from going downtown. If parking becomes even more of a pain to find and/or pay parking is installed (like one commenter suggested), people may consider heading uptown to the mostly corporate Garibaldi Estates plazas instead. To say that you want to encourage people to be healthy and walk or bike or take public transit, sure, that’s a lovely idealistic thought, but in reality a lot of people will just go in the other direction where it’s more convenient. I think if you really care about revitalizing downtown, and helping out local merchants/entrepreneurs and the local economy, you have to base your decision about this bylaw with this reality in mind. Is this good for getting people downtown?

  7. TJay says:

    Remember the word ‘niggardly’ ? How about cheap? How’s about loosing the horizon and can’t see further than the nose on the face?…hmmmm….