Pilot project aims to free up parking spaces downtown

Victoria city council will soon allow taxi stands to operate at designated fire hydrants as part of a pilot project to free up parking.

Victoria city council will soon allow taxi stands to operate at designated fire hydrants as part of a pilot project to free up on-street parking.

The one-year pilot project will allow taxis to stand at six pre-selected fire hydrant zones, as long as the driver remains in the vehicle and leaves if an emergency vehicle arrives.

According to a report to council, the project would improve access to taxis downtown, free up on-street parking for businesses, which is constantly in high demand, and reduce the amount of time spent driving for taxi drivers while awaiting passengers, which would reduce impacts on the environment.

There are taxi parking zones located throughout downtown, however, due to the limited number of zones, taxis often use on-street parking stalls while waiting for fares, which reduces parking for visitors, noted the report.

Mayor Lisa Helps said the parking problem can’t be solved all at once, but the pilot project is a step in the right direction.

“It’s a win-win. It’s something the taxi industry has been asking for and also it takes some of the pressure off some of the parking spots,” she said, adding if it goes well, there’s nothing stopping the city from expanding the program to include more hydrant zones.

“There’s a measurable increase in the number of people coming downtown and we’re not going to solve the parking challenge with one solution, but this is one small step to free up some spaces. If we attack it on a space by space basis, we should be able to find enough spots for everyone who wants to come and shop downtown.”

A similar project was implemented in Calgary in 2011, which allowed taxis to stand at 52 pre-designated spots adjacent to fire hydrants. Since then, the program has been successful, and the city recently increased the number of hydrant/taxi zones to 75 in the downtown core.

The six locations downtown include 1200 Government St., 1632 Store St., 761 and 827 Fort St., and 728 and 634 Humboldt St.

Staff will monitor the project and report back to council in a year with the findings.