Salmon Arm’s Downtown Parking Commission is open to public input on a parkade, estimated to cost $7.5 million, proposed for the Ross Street Plaza.
With construction not expected to occur until 2022, Alan Harrison, council’s representative on the commission, explained the proposal is in its early stages.
Referring to recommendations from the city’s corporate services director Monica Dalziel, Harrison spoke in favour of one where the Downtown Parking Specified Area Parking levy is increased by 2.5 per cent from 2012 to 2021 and the annual municipal contribution from general revenue is increased in 2013 from $25,000 to $45,000. Harrison noted that at the current rate, it would be a long time before anything is built.
“I always hear lots of talk about we want to make the downtown work, we want the downtown to be a vibrant area, we want people to get downtown,” said Harrison. “Unless we have places for them to park, it’s not going to happen. I know there’s alternate kind of transportation, we talk a lot about that and that’s important, there’s no question about it. The fact is, most people drive, and they’re going to have to have a place to park and the downtown, no matter what else we do, it’s going to be hard to make it grow.”
Conversation on the parkade was sparked by comments Coun. Kevin Flynn made on minutes of the commission’s Sept. 20 meeting.
Flynn said he was concerned there were recommendations with significant budget implications, and he wondered when council would become involved.
“The plan was to put these numbers out so the commission would have time to review the numbers and look over the impacts it would have on the cost of downtown parking, and the idea is to bring back a recommendation from the next downtown parking commission meeting to council,” replied engineering and public works director Dale McTaggart.
Harrison then received input from Coun. Ivan Idzan, who questioned whether or not the public would agree to the Ross Street Plaza as the right location for a parkade.
“Yes, it’s where we currently park, but I do think that a concrete monolith to parking in the middle of our town centre will actually detract more from our town centre than add to it,” said Idzan.
McTaggart said the intent is to come up with a parkade that’s attractive and draws people to the downtown.
Idzan also asked if the commission considered the future need of a transit exchange, which he said would be better-suited to a flat, level area downtown, while a parkade could be built into a hillside.
“I think the whole feeling of the parking commission was we want council to be aware of what our plan is because we want feedback from you, and of course we want feedback from the public and, at the right time, we’ll certainly be asking for it,” said Harrison.
“You have to remember that the downtown parking commission is made up of businessmen who own businesses in the downtown, so they’re certainly not going to do anything that’s going to be bad for business.”