More meters and higher fees, study suggests for city parking

Changes would increase turnover at on-street spaces downtown, says consultant
The city may need to install more parking meters downtown, increase parking rates and police its own parking with in-house employees, according to the recently released and much-anticipated parking management study from Opus International Consultants.

The call for a review of the city's parking began in January 2008, but after two years the report has finally surfaced and is ready to be gleaned for recommendations. The 152-page document indicates that without an over-arching strategy, the city will continue to face operational problems, such as parking enforcement in the downtown or crammed streets in the hospital and university neighbourhoods.

The consultants recommend short- and long-term planning in order to create higher parking turnover in areas of the downtown and decrease overflow parking at Vancouver Island University and at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Increasing rates in all these areas will help in the short term, while in-house parking attendents and new parking technology make up the long-term solutions that will improve the system overall.

Members of the parking advisory committee will make recommendations from the report to council once they have studied the report. They meet next week.

Parking turnover in the downtown is a key issue that could be changed with increased on-street parking meter rates along Chapel Street and Skinner Street. The consultants also suggest extending one-hour parking restrictions to two hours. These changes would also encourage people to use off-street parking lots. Four-hour parking restrictions in some areas should also be changed to two hours with residents exempt because the consistency will make enforcement much easier, according to the study.

Additional parking meters along Commercial Street, between Bastion Street and Albert Street would "encourage greater on-street parking turnover, and greater use of off-street parking lots," the report states.

The city should introduce transportation demand management systems in trouble areas, such as around the hospital, city hall, B.C. Ferries terminals and Vancouver Island University. The report's authors stress the importance of reducing vehicle traffic in these areas. For the major employers, who attract increased traffic and require large volumes of parking spaces, the city should encourage dedicated parking spaces for carpool ride-sharing and car co-ops. Parking spaces should be in line with transit fares.

"Although aspects of (transportation demand management) are referred to in the city's official community plan, these need to be kept to the forefront of decision-making regarding both parking directly and other aspects of planning and development which would have repercussions on parking and TDM," the report states.

Opus also recommends investing in modern equipment that would record parking patterns and trends.

The report also said to further improve the system, the city could separate parking from the traffic and parking bylaw, just as the cities of Vancouver and Richmond. And if affordable, the city could pay its own staff to enforce parking.
Opus International Consultants
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