Monopoly has it, Kelowna does not
Jul 24, 2012 / 11:18 am
Shoppers heading into downtown Kelowna won't be getting a break on parking during the duration of the Bernard Avenue revitalization.
Bernard Avenue will be ripped up in three stages over an 18 month period beginning in late August.
Stage one, in the fall and winter of this year runs from Ellis to Richter streets. Stage two in the spring of 2013 encompasses Abbott to Pandosy streets while phase three in the fall of 2013 goes from Pandosy to St. Paul streets.
In an effort to soften the blow to downtown merchants, the Downtown Kelowna Association asked the city to consider free parking during the construction phase.
City Council Monday unanimously rejected the idea on the advice of staff.
Regional Services Director, Ron Westlake, admitted to council that revenues generated from downtown parking played a roll in Monday's recommendation.
Westlake says parking streams from metres and other downtown parking sources have helped pay for the two downtown parkades and improvements to other surface lots.
"Of course the loss of parking revenues could mean that municipal taxation would have to pick up some of the costs we have obligations for relative to running the parking system downtown," says Westlake.
"The private sector is also providing parking and if we were providing free parking what would that do to the private sector."
Westlake added that free parking could also backfire on merchants if their employees chose to utilize those spaces on a long term basis.
While Westlake acknowledged on-street parking stalls on Bernard Avenue will be affected by the reconstruction project, a survey conducted in the summer of 2011 nearly twice as many short term parking stalls were available within a 300 metre distance of Bernard Avenue than were being displaced.
"You have all the statistical information regarding the number of stalls that are available so it's hard not to support the staff position on free parking," says Councillor Luke Stack.
"It may actually hinder a business downtown and not help it. That's one of the things I have been wrestling with and I'm encouraged to see that there are as many stalls available in that very tight radius as mentioned."
Stack and several other councillors took issue with a decision by staff to encourage workers employed at the construction site to park at a pre-determined staging area at the northwest corner or Richter Street and Clement Avenue.
They suggested the former KSS site at Harvey and Richter would be more suitable.
"There has already been a significant amount of neighbourhood consultation with the Central Green property. We had very significant issues with the staging of garbage containers and things like that there. To introduce another contractor into a residential area probably wouldn't go down very well," stated Westlake.
"The property on Clement Avenue is already in an industrial area. We feel that's appropriate. The distance isn't much different. We felt we should go where the land use is more suitable."
Westlake says the contractor is being 'encouraged' to use the Clement Avenue location for parking, however, he says employees are also free to pay for long term parking on one of the other downtown lots.
"I appreciate the comments but my position is still the same," added Stack.
"I still think it makes more sense and I know it is a bit of a sensitive issue around the KSS site but I think if we actually want success you have to make parking easy to get to."
Others on council agreed, suggesting the portion of the old KSS site closer to Boston Pizza and away from residential areas would be better suited.
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