Downtown parking in the spotlight

Boosting the price of metered parking in Downtown New Westminster is one strategy being proposed by the city to better manage parking.

A report presented to council Monday states that a change in the price and time limits for on-street parking could encourage drivers wanting to stay a while to park in existing off-street lots instead. That would not only fill up the existing structures but also free up spaces for short-term stops.

The report and the suggestions are part of a Downtown Parking Study currently underway, which is now looking at short- and long-term strategies to achieve the city’s vision for parking Downtown.

The report said New Westminster’s meter rates are at the low end of the scale compared to other downtowns, and the daily and monthly parking rates are also low in relation to other downtowns.

It added that at the current rates there is not enough revenue from long-term, monthly parkers to support off-street parking including the Front Street Parkade.

Weekday demand Downtown is well below the available supply, the report said, except in the Quayside area, where 85 per cent of the spaces are occupied on weekdays and close to 100 per cent on weekends.

It noted less than 70 per cent of the parking supply in the rest of the Downtown is used. That figure is even lower for the parkade.

“Occupancy for the Front Street Parkade’s 750 stalls is 50 per cent on a weekday and 20 per cent on the weekends, with weekday demand dropping sharply in the late afternoon. The demand is currently highest at the western end of the parkade on the covered parking deck,” said the report.

The Downtown supply “well exceeds the existing demand in spite of a relatively low cost.”

In its potential strategies, the report says partial or full removal of the parkade should be discussed.

The report also suggests the city could lighten parking requirements in new buildings to avoid creating excessive unused parking.

The next step is to present the background and potential strategies for discussion at an open house at city hall on Feb. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m.

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