Coquitlam has too much parking near SkyTrain stations, says city staff

Only 65% of stalls are being used in 15 strata buildings surveyed by the city

Coquitlam neighbourhoods with SkyTrain stations are oversupplied with parking and the number of stalls developers are required to build should be reduced, according to a staff recommendation. 

A survey of 15 buildings in the city’s transit-oriented areas found that only 65% of available strata parking and 43% of visitor parking are being used while the rest remain empty. 

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“That indicates a very high oversupply of parking in the buildings we surveyed,” said Dragana Mitic, Coquitlam’s transportation manager. 

Currently, developers of multi-family buildings are expected to provide one stall for every studio and one-bedroom apartment and 1.35 stalls for every unit with two or more bedrooms.

Staff are proposing reducing that number to 0.85 stalls per studio or one-bedroom unit and 1.25 for the larger units. 

In rental buildings, where vehicle ownership tends to be lower, the requirements would be reduced from 0.86 stalls to 0.75 stalls for market rentals and 0.75 to 0.65 per below-market rental. 

“Effective parking management is fundamental to achieving many broad city goals,” said a staff report. “It is an effective tool to not only influence travel behaviour and encourage sustainable transportation, but also support rapid transit investments and planned growth and densification.”

The last time council changed its parking requirements was in 2012, when it reduced the number of stalls for units with two or more bedrooms by 10%. At the time, the per-stall requirements for studios and one-bedroom units remained unchanged. 

Most councillors seemed open to the idea of easing parking requirements when the report was discussed at a June 6 meeting. 

However, some councillors expressed concern about a proposed reduction in visitor parking in new developments.

Currently, 0.2 visitor stalls are required for every unit, a number that would be reduced to 0.1 under the new proposal. 

Coun. Craig Hodge said those stalls are needed for people coming from outside the neighbourhood who may not live close to rapid transit.

“I don’t think… we are at a point yet where people are going to do their visiting on SkyTrain or cycling,” he said.

Council voted to send the item back to staff to amend the options for visitor stall requirements. 

Reducing the amount of parking for residential buildings in transit-oriented neighbourhoods is only the first phase of a larger parking review being conducted by the city.

This summer, staff will start looking at commercial and office parking rates along with bike parking. In the third phase, the city will look at on-street parking management before putting forward a zoning bylaw update for city-wide residential and commercial parking rates in the winter. 

Coquitlam is not the only municipality in the Lower Mainland with more parking than it needs.

A study conducted by Metro Vancouver in 2018 found that supply exceeded demand by 42% across the region.

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