Parking solution requires shift in multi-modal perspective: councillors

The solution to Victoria’s parking problem isn’t just about building more parkades, say city councillors.

The solution to Victoria’s parking problem isn’t just about building more parkades, but requires a shift of multi-modal perspectives, say city councillors.

The lack of available parking in the downtown core has become problematic over the past year, with more parkades becoming full in the morning, leaving people looking to come downtown for a short period of time unable to find spots.

However, city councillors believe the issue is more than just about the lack of parking in the city.

“We really need to focus on a mode shift goal. It’s not financially viable to build new parkades,” said Mayor Lisa Helps, noting she’s spoken with industry experts who say building more parkades will drive long-term parking costs from $14 a day to roughly $28 a day.

“This isn’t a conversation about parkades and parking, what we really need to focus on in 2017 is transportation solutions and a mode shift.”

Coun. Jeremy Loveday agreed, noting the city’s push to complete a comprehensive cycling network by 2018 is just one part of council’s vision to transform Victoria into a multi-modal city.

“A lot of the work we’re doing around mode shift and building bike lanes, that’s long-term city building and there’s an immediate crunch now,” he said. “We do need to solve this (parking issue) in the short and medium future. It’s more than bike lanes, we need solutions in terms of transit.”

The discussion followed Coun. Geoff Young’s motion, which was approved to have staff bring forward recommendations for city parking rates to ensure they meet the needs of short-term visitors to the downtown and the best use of available space.

Young applauded staff’s efforts to make spaces available by designating fire hydrants as taxi stands, but said more needs to be done to accommodate the demands of businesses who need space on streets for loading zones, buses, cyclists and drivers.

“I think it’s really incumbent on us to make sure that they can be accommodated and that we have to balance off those different competing interests,” he said. “It’s those short term needs that we need to accommodate and we need recommendations that will allow us to do that.”

Recently, downtown businesses have also voiced concern that a lack of parking is driving customers away, leading the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) to explore ways to combat the growing transportation problem.

As a result, the association met with the city recently to come up with 28 action items.

Included in those action items are for the DVBA to create a map with current parking structures, lots and street parking spaces for the public, work on a parking lot, which will be a park and ride for commuters with a short shuttle ride into downtown; and work with Modo CarShare to produce a program for businesses to help market the Modo.

“Not any one of these items will fix our city’s transportation issues, however, a combination of actions will alleviate the stress some business owners and customers feel when they come downtown,” said DVBA executive director Kerri Milton in a recent editorial on the issue.