A Kamloops councillor is concerned about future parking needs, should the city’s surface parking lots one day be developed.
On Thursday, the city’s community services committee received an update on the city’s parking management plan and Coun. Denis Walsh said he wants included long-range planning for future loss of surface parking lots.
Walsh said property currently occupied by surface parking is not utilized to its best use and is “sitting there waiting to be developed.” The matter was also brought up during city consultation with various groups, which identified surface parking as a poor use of land downtown. Walsh said such lots downtown are currently used for employee parking.
“We’re relying on these old surface parking lots that are going to disappear,” he said.
Walsh is co-owner of The Vic coffe shop at Victoria Street and Fourth Avenue and owns Moviemart at St. Paul Street and Fourth Avenue.
Community services director Byron McCorkell said the city is looking at how to best manage parking on the street and in its own lots. He said staff are of the opinion the greatest downtown parking problem is employee parking. He said if employees park in off-street locations, it would free up parking spaces for those who come downtown to shop.
McCorkell warned the impending parking management strategy will not be fully accepted by everyone.
He noted some of the new construction downtown has parking as a component of the project, some underground, adding that when a surface lot disappears due to development, the development will have some form of parking.
“I think that the people who are building the buildings realize that they’ve got a parking concern in order to fill a building,” McCorkell said.
Community services manager Tammy Blundell said the city recently completed its first phase of engagement for the parking management plan. Blundell said the city held virtual sessions and also distributed an online survey. Representatives of 43 groups and members of the general public attended four digital sessions, two each for downtown and the North Shore. In addition, 913 people completed online surveys for downtown (613) and North Shore (300).
Blundell said the data will be analyzed and a second round of engagement will occur in the summer, with the plan expected in the fall.
A report to the committee included some feedback gleaned from the group workshops, including discouraging downtown shoppers from using hospital parking, new development bringing more office workers downtown, long-term parking for staff and employees needed downtown and crosswalks in the Tranquille Corridor needing to be marked.
Walsh questioned why the city would conduct its engagement for the parking management strategy during the pandemic, during which time, he said, parking has not been an issue.
“My concern is, you know, it’s like doing a survey on a Sunday when nobody’s downtown because the parking is not a problem right now. I think anybody can tell you that,” he said. “You just have to look at any parking lot.”