Amidst concerns raised about downtown parking and in advance of a referendum to borrow money to build Kamloops Centre for the Arts downtown, community and protective services director Byron McCorkell pointed to a larger facility down the road from city hall.
The 5,400-seat Sandman Centre was built with 300 stalls and the objective was to have vehicles use street parking and parkades and get people to come downtown.
“The theory has always been a 10-minute walk to a Blazer game is not to be unexpected,” McCorkell said. “So, now you come to a performing-arts centre, why would we go away from that? There was at the previous iteration of this discussion in the community about the need for a parkade downtown. That was hotly contested in that the community did not necessarily agree that there needed to be a parkade. The theatre, in and of itself, we’re looking at no differently than Sandman. If you go to an event there, we would encourage you to go down and park downtown, in the parkades or wherever.”
As for what happens on a night when both a hockey game and theatre show are held, McCorkell said with more than 5,000 private and public parking stalls downtown, there is a lot of parking downtown, noting not every person attending the events will be driving.
McCorkell said the new parking plan, to be finalized next year, may detail need for a parkade in the next five to 10 years. The issue with downtown parking is not with those who come to shop or for entertainment; it’s with employees.
“If that is the case, then a parkade is really about long-term parking, it’s not about one-hour short-term parking,” McCorkell said.
While other communities have an abundance of underground parking, that is not the case in downtown Kamloops. Asked if the city could require buildings to include parking for employees, McCorkell said zoning in the 1960s allowed buildings to be constructed without parking in order to maximize square footage. The business community later came forward, noting a shortage of 500 stalls, 380 of which were built.
“As we move forward now, we do have a situation where we have lots of parking downtown, but we do have demand issues in some areas, which the traffic plan showed,” McCorkell said.
He said one solution is putting a premium on parking in areas of highest demand. He added that it is cheaper to park downtown than it is to take a bus.