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Above-ground parking guidelines on the way
A tower proposal for Carnarvon Street has city council considering developing guidelines for above-ground parking lots.
Council has asked staff to develop the policy because of negotiations with the developer of the Downtown New Westminster project.
When the proposal first came up at their July 8 meeting, councillors weren’t impressed by the plans for above-ground parking.
Top Vision Developments, developers of Carnarvon Gardens, a proposed commercial/residential 23-storey tower at 813-823 Carnarvon St., want to include seven levels of partial or full parking, including two floors below ground.
The proposal notes commercial space, the topography and other buildings would screen off most of the other floors.
A report to council’s Aug. 26 meeting said the developer balked at a city suggestion to put the top level of full parking underground. Instead, Top Vision proposed eliminating the level and expanding parking on the three levels below. But that would mean eliminating approximately half of the proposed 23,500 square feet of office space.
One of the options recommended in the report was to work with the developer on screening or setting the above-grade parking back from the commercial levels to make it esthetically acceptable.
Coun. Jonathan Coté said even a metre setback would make it invisible from the streetscape. Senior planner Barry Waitt said the developers were willing to set it back two feet, but the city was looking for more to achieve what Coté was talking about.
While that option was accepted by the majority, Couns. Bill Harper and Jaimie McEvoy opposed it.
Harper wants the parking to be underground while McEvoy liked the option of having staff work with the developer to find a way to decrease above-grade parking while retaining the office space. There was no appetite from any of the councillors to have the developer eliminate the top level because it would result in the loss of office space.
The discussion prompted council to ask staff to develop some guidelines.
“The city should get a policy about what needs to be done for above-ground parking,” said Coté.
Coun. Betty McIntosh said guidelines are needed because topography, the water table and other factors come in to play making above-ground parking necessary.
“Right now we don’t have anything to work with when we get an application,” said McIntosh.
Along with the office space, the proposal calls for almost 34,000 sq. ft. of commercial space and 198 residential units.