Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

PARKING PLAN UNVEILED – Consultant Mike Skene, city planner Ben Campbell and city planning manager Mike Gau, left to right, held a briefing Monday afternoon to explain the proposed parking plan. Members of city council expressed their support for the plan last night. It will go before council next Tuesday for formal adoption. Pictured above: MIKE SKENE and ERIC SCHROFF.

Parking plan called detriment to city core

A new plan to manage parking in downtown Whitehorse and eventually restrict free parking all day was well-received by city council Monday night, for the most part.

By Chuck Tobin on May 17, 2011

A new plan to manage parking in downtown Whitehorse and eventually restrict free parking all day was well-received by city council Monday night, for the most part.

The 10-year plan also calls for more emphasis on transit use, cycling and walking as a means of reducing the demand for parking. It will go back to council next week for approval.

It's been in the works since January 2010, and has resulted in a 180-page report and 36 recommendations which several members of council applauded at last night's meeting.

Eric Schroff, on the other hand, cautioned the mayor and council about trying to fix something he says isn't broken.

The very research used to support the report, he insisted, indicates there is not a parking issue.

Forcing downtown employees to walk halfway across town from their place of work could ultimately have a negative impact, Schroff told council at the outset of the meeting.

He said if employees and employers are faced with rising costs and challenges to find all-day parking, employers may start looking to locate their businesses outside the downtown.

Making employees face $150 a month or $1,800 a year to buy space in public or private parking lots could punch a big hole in the amount of money a person has to spend on lunch or whatever, Schroff suggested.

All these initiatives and restrictions are being proposed, he said, when there really isn't a problem.

Schroff works on Rogers Street between Second and Third avenues.

There's never an issue finding parking on the street or nearby, though lunchtime can get a little crowded at times with the Northern Dragon restaurant at the end of the street, he told members of council.

Under the proposal coming down the pipe, however, Schroff won't be able to park in front of his place of work for more than two hours.

In fact, from Black Street south to the Yukon River, between Fourth Avenue and the riverfront, there'll be no all-day parking in five to 10 years, according to the proposed plan.

Parking throughout the entire area will be restricted to two hours, or one hour in the city core, including Main Street.

Restrictions have also been added west of Fourth Avenue which, for instance, would turn the all-day parking available on Wood Street into a two-hour maximum.

Schroff said the research into the new plan itself shows there's no issue, and there's not likely to be in the next 10 years.

But yet, he and others like him who depend on their vehicles for one reason or another – Schroff is a resident of Wolf Creek and the parent of two – will be forced to find parking considerable distances from their place of work.

Otherwise, he and others like him will be firing up their vehicle every couple of hours to move it.

That's not the best solution for the environment, he told council.

Schroff said walking halfway across town may be fine at some times of the year, but not at -30 C with a piercing wind.

If parking is an issue for those who live downtown and who can't find a parking spot in front of their own homes, then by all means, look at specific solutions, he suggested.

But implementing a blanket strategy that isn't supported by the numbers, Schroff insisted, is not the way to go.

City staff and the consultant who helped develop the parking plan explained in a briefing prior to the last night's meeting that the intent is not to implement street restrictions prior to promoting other strategies to reduce demand for parking.

One of the recommendations in the plan is to allow use of the $1.4-million fund reserved for parking initiatives to promote more use of the transit system and other means of sustainable transportation, it was pointed out.

They said one of the strategies is to find and promote more use of private or public parking lots before implementing the new restrictions.

Major employers, for instance, will be encouraged to implement their own transportation demand strategies, such as providing employees with the option of having the cost of monthly bus passes as an automatic payroll deduction.

Consultant Mike Skene of Boulevard Group from Victoria explained there'll be a 15-per-cent growth in demand for downtown parking spaces in the next 10 years.

The squeeze on parking, city planner Ben Campbell pointed out, was identified as a concern by the business community in the city's economic development workshop in 2009.

Skene said other than Main Street and First Avenue, there generally is not an issue finding parking currently.

The parking management plan, however, is not solely directed at talking about how many parking stalls the city will need, but also about having residents look at alternative methods of transportation, he said.

Skene said the number one strategy in the plan is to reduce demand, and how to go about reducing that demand, how to change habits.

Coun. Dave Austin pointed out last night he's spoken with a downtown resident who says he can never find a parking spot in front of his home.

The city is going to have to look sooner rather than later at a program to ensure downtown residents have parking available, said Coun. Doug Graham.

Comments (12)

Up 0 Down 0

Captain Hook on May 25, 2011 at 10:14 am

Let's have another mutiny like we did with the silly logo fiasco. This dumb idea needs to go back where it came from!

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Anon on May 24, 2011 at 6:10 am

Sue bowers asked:

1. Where do the mayor and city employees currently park?

2. Do they pay for parking?

---------------------

City employees all get free onsite parking.

They also get plugins that are funded fully by taxpayers.

Additionally, the Mayor receives a $450 monthly vehicle allowance.

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Cheryl McLean on May 20, 2011 at 12:16 am

I agree with absolutely everyone here! Even the Victoria consultant who has likely never rode our transit or walked a few blocks at 30 below, even admits there is not a problem. This is one city election I can not wait for!

I would also like to know where the Mayor and council and city staff park. Perhaps they all use transit?

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will never be a transit user on May 19, 2011 at 9:00 am

This whole idea is so stupid it is astounding. Only a single person who never ever needs to do any errands during the workday can use the useless transit system. Anyone with kids in school, daycare, or who might need to do things like grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions during the day needs their car. I say open up the parking - put MORE free parking near buildings where a lot of people are working. Then you wouldn't see people parking their vehicles in front of downtown residences.

Take the giant empty buses off the roads, and fire the meter men/maids (instead of hiring a bunch more to enforce the stupid new parking plan).

Put all of that money saved into something more useful - like another logo consultation - 2 out of 3 wins!

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Northone on May 18, 2011 at 10:56 am

Absolutely ridiculous. There is no need or justification for what the city is planning. But, like most COW initiatives, the decisions had been made before the parking management plan even went out to consultation. Consultation as tokenism, situation normal. The transit system is beyond hopeless and not a viable alternative. And if downtown residents can't find parking, that's a separate problem that can be easily addressed without a blanket elimination of all-day parking downtown.

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Kailey Irwin on May 18, 2011 at 6:22 am

My place of business is located on 3rd Avenue and we are lucky to have SOME (not a much)all day parking near our office; however, everything else is 2 hour parking (the land of $25 parking tickets). If they are going to get rid of our all day parking then I feel they should lower the cost of parking tickets because it just isn't fair, when you are busy at work you don't have time to watch the clock and constantly move your vehicle. Do the math if I get a $25 ticket each work day that's $125 a week which equals $500. After a year of this that is $6,000!!!

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Anonymous on May 17, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Hmmm.... Can anyone say... "money grab". This appears to be nothing more than a way to seize more money from working class individuals. Since there have been issues with busing (including waiting an hour for a bus in freezing weather) the city is now trying to force people to take buses. Trying to get employers to automatically deduct bus fares is a sneaky way to get people who are barely making a living to pay money to the city transit system. Shame on those who are emptying the pockets of our community of working people.

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Lawrence Bredy on May 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Well this sounds broken record-ish...who, and from where, thinks we need to RIDE OUR BICYCLES AND TAKE TRANSIT LIKE THEY DO IN TORONTO. Once again we need to point out that we are not in Toronto. I think the transit system here will remain much as it is now, used by few for the most part. As for cycling, go for it in the appropriate conditions, but one of these days, a cyclist will find themselves under a transit bus. Winter cycling is asking for trouble. I appreciate your enthusiasm, but it's idiotic. Oh, stay off Second Avenue all together, there's a traffic calming bike lane that runs the length of town on Fourth. (see under the bus, above)

Up 0 Down 0

DG on May 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm

So how do persons that run their business essentially from there car or truck fit into this ie painter carpenter or otherwise. Are we really gonna have to move our vehicle every two hours?

Come on...

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Sue bowers on May 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm

3 questions that I want the mayor and council to answer:

1. Where do the mayor and city employees currently park?

2. Do they pay for parking?

3. What is the plan to improve a shoddy, at best, transit system? If it actually was efficient, I would use it.

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Max Mack on May 17, 2011 at 11:20 am

I agree with Shroff. I've reviewed the consultant's own numbers and there is no case for tighter, blanket parking restrictions.

Most of the increased pressure of late re: parking downtown has been the result of CoW REDUCING parking stall requirements for new or improved developments.

CoW, as is typical of so many of its initiatives, seems more concerned with social engineering and romantic notions of environmentalism than practical, day-to-day management strategies. This proposal also reeks of a veiled money grab via increased parking fine revenues.

Those that can afford to pay private parking rates will do so without problems. The effect of this policy is to push the less advantaged out of the downtown core -- the rest of us will end up walking half-way across town to park, or moving our vehicles repeatedly. This is hardly economic, effective or environmentally friendly.

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Philip on May 17, 2011 at 8:37 am

This mayor and council is doing their best to turn Whitehorse into an unaffordable, unlivable, unfriendly to everyone except the transit user town.

The lack of foresight has created a housing crunch with rents and homes the average person can no longer afford, and property tax and utility bills that have jumped way faster than inflation for those who do own.

Now their solution is to create another entirely new bill for Whitehorse residents in the form of monthly off street parking fees. And council will be so helpful by encouraging businesses to turn this basically new parking tax into an automatic payroll deduction, thank you very much!

Why do they insist on creating a mountain out of a molehill? Every time something comes out of city hall these days it's more head scratching bad news.

Don't these guys have something useful to do with their time that would actually help residents?

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