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City hopes 1.35 is magic no. for parking
Coquitlam council hopes it has found the “sweet spot” when it comes to parking around the Evergreen Line.
This week, city council gave three readings for proposed parking policies that will see a 10% reduction in new buildings close to the rapid-transit line in the Lougheed, Burquitlam and City Centre areas.
Under the rules, which have yet to be adopted by council, the number of parking stalls for two-bedroom suites built in the so-called “core and shoulder zones” would drop from 1.5 to 1.35 stalls.
As well, under the Transit-Oriented Development Strategy (TDS), developers that want even less parking — up to 5% more — could take part in a new program that would see residents of their buildings offered transit incentives such as passes and shared car rides.
And for developers that want further parking reductions, they can pay $20,000 per stall not provided as part of a cash-in-lieu program (revenue from that program would fund future public parking and transit infrastructure around Evergreen).
The parking crunch around the Evergreen Line — due to be built from Lougheed Town Centre in Burnaby to City Centre in Coquitlam by the summer of 2016 — has been a source of contention for many months.
Some Coquitlam councillors, including Mae Reid, contend parking should stay at 1.5 stalls for two-bedroom homes. Current homeowners also fear Evergreen riders will clog neighbourhood streets, hoping to score free parking.
Coun. Selina Robinson said Coquitlam is in a transitional phase and has to rely on other suburbs with rapid transit for best practices.
Still, she said the 1.35-stall allocation is the magic number. “I think we have found the sweet spot,” she said, referring to balancing private and public parking demands.
“I don’t think we are going to know the true results of this until we have SkyTrain in the city,” Coun. Linda Reimer said of the TDS.
At a public hearing Monday, Patrick Santoro, a policy analyst with the Urban Development Institute, suggested Coquitlam tighten its parking rules more to be in line with other Metro Vancouver suburbs that have rapid transit, which typically have 1.24 parking stalls for two-bedroom suites, located around transit hubs.
Instead, Coquitlam’s 10% reduction for two-bedroom suites, UDI is recommending:
• 10% reduction for one-bedroom units;
• 15% reduction for two-bedroom units;
• 15% reduction for visitor parking;
• and an extra 5% reduction if transit incentives are in place.
Santoro said the UDI is opposed to the cash-in-lieu program as new homeowners won’t necessarily benefit from public parking because the city can spend the revenue anywhere along the Evergreen corridor.
Coun. Neal Nicholson also said he would like to see the cash-in-lieu pot be site-specific — that is, money raised from a Burquitlam development be spent in that neighbourhood.
Still, city manager Peter Steblin warned if the income is site-specific, it could create “orphan” accounts, with some areas not getting any multi-model improvements.
Nicholson also pressed city staff to start its parking management strategy study as soon as possible, given that residents in the shoulder areas are anxious about how the Evergreen parking will affect them.
The city is looking at a number of options for the shoulder areas, including parking time limits, residential parking permits and public parking lots, said Catherine Mohoruk, Coquitlam’s manager of transportation planning.
City staff will outline its work plan for Evergreen parking studies before council considers fourth and final reading, which is expected next month.