No parking in Nanaimo?

At the last Nanaimo Council meeting on Monday, April 20th, two developers requested reduced parking. What is happening to the parking in Nanaimo? Here is an overview.

The first development was a three-storey, 45-room hotel on 440 Selby Street downtown. The second was a 55-unit rental apartment at 6330 McRobb Avenue in North Nanaimo.

45 room hotel at 440 Selby St.
45 room hotel at 440 Selby St.

The proposed hotel at 440 Selby Street is to include meeting rooms, a spa/salon, a 36-seat restaurant, plus 45 hotel rooms. Council approved 25 parking spaces; not the required 45 underneath the building, nor the 35 stalls recommended by the City.

The on-site parking requirements for a hotel is 1 parking space per hotel room, or 45 spaces. According to Bylaw 7013, it states that if the development can’t provide the parking then there is a required fee of $3,000 per parking stall.

Councillor Fuller used his favourite word to describe the situation: “bizzare”. Fuller was the only council member to vote against the motion. Fuller said he was very concerned with the growing congestion and lack of parking in the area.

55 rental unit 6330 McRobb Ae
55 rental unit 6330 McRobb Ave

The proposed 55-unit rental apartment at 6330 McRobb Avenue is causing great concern for the neighbours. Two strata council representatives from different complexes gave presentations outlining their issues with granting reduced parking for the development.

The residents’ concern was that there will be no required underground parking. The number of parking stalls required for the proposed apartment is 83 parking stalls and this is to be reduced to 66 stalls. (Ratio: 1.2)

The delegations said that the side roads in the area are too narrow for the volume of traffic (see the red lines in the diagram above).  Strata representatives gave examples of people working in the area who fill up the streets and park in the empty lots adjacent to the Texada.

The developer said “we won’t ghettoize the neighbourhood”, referring to the fact that over half the units will be micro or one bedroom units. Also, he gave the example that his other 6 rental complexes in Nanaimo under utilize the parking stalls available.

Mayor McKay gave two examples of other developments that were approved with reduced parking on site, 775 Terminal Avenue and 1820 Summerhill Place.

Summerhill Place fronting on Townsite Road near Bowen Road with 103 units was given approval for 109 parking stalls. (Ratio: 1.06)

Terminal Ave has 121 units and 145 parking stalls. (Ratio: 1.2)

Multi-Plex Apartment 6524 Portsmouth
Multi-Plex Apartment 6524 Portsmouth

In contrast,  there is a proposal to remove a single family dwelling at 6524 Portsmouth and build in its place an 8-unit residential development which will have 12 parking stalls.  (Ratio: 1.5)

Nob Hill
Recently the City has restricted the street parking at Nob Hill to two hours for non-residents. Apparently, visitors and commuters from other parts of town frequently parked in the residential streets for long periods of time.

Hospital Area
People living in the the Hospital Area have raised concerns of a lack of street parking. How does the hospital plan to solve its parking issues? Will they build another parkade?

Transit needs to work with the major employers in these nodes and coordinate buses so that they can meet the needs of commuters. Many of the bus routes are too long, too infrequent and the times do not match peoples’ work schedules.

One visitor to Nanaimo took to twitter to complain about the lack of transit service. If it takes an hour and 40 minutes to get to the Departure Bay ferry by transit and 10 minutes by car people are not going to get out of their cars.  Providing parking is expensive, heats up cities with lack of green spaces, and increases traffic congestion.

The developer of the Summerhill Place said to council during his presentation that he really believes that people are using vehicles less in urban centers.

At another council meeting a resident living in Harewood gave a presentation to council with his concerns about traffic congestion.  In his neighbourhood parking survey he counted an average of 5 vehicles per single family dwelling. Most of these homes have secondary units.

Do people live, work and play in their Nanaimo neighbourhoods? Are people turning to transit and cycling? Or are they constantly on the road driving from one strip mall to the next?

Bike to work week Nanaimo is coming up from May 25 – 31.

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