New parking strategies improve space and economy

The Town of Golden is looking into implementing new strategies in the downtown core to ensure efficiency of parking availabilities.

The available parking spaces downtown are considered adequate, and count for parallel parking on 9th Avenue N., Main Street, and the CP Rail parking lot. The area spans from the Highway 95 bridge to 7th Street North, behind IGA. There are currently 774 parking stalls downtown, of which 290 are public and mostly on-street, and 484 stalls are private.

There are a few key issues residents face when parking downtown. Some residents and employees of downtown businesses will park in two-hour parking stalls for longer than the allowed time, limiting the turnover of available parking spaces.

The Town of Golden will work to begin issuing warning tickets to people who occupy the spaces longer than the allotted time, and will enforce the two hour parking time limit now that the Town has dedicated bylaw enforcement services, in order to ensure that customer parking is available. This will also ensure that long term staff or business owners are parking elsewhere.

“Priority enforcement time for on-street parking is in the summertime,” said Phil Armstrong, the Town’s manager of development services/planner. “In July, people will see him on the street.”

He explained that in order to ensure the bylaw officer’s best use of time, is to focus on concentrated areas of concern. The downtown core is a popular parking hub, and access to the many businesses is important.

Another change that could be coming to parking stall requirements in the downtown area, is changing the required number of stalls universally across the board. Instead of restaurants being told they are required one stall per every four seats for example, each building, no matter the zoning type, could be required to have one stall per 50 square metres. The businesses that do not have available parking, whether they are public or private, will be able to pay the town cash in lieu at a low rate per stall.

This change could help with economic development of the downtown, allowing businesses to add extra storeys to their buildings, and doesn’t change because of the building’s usage type.

“For one, it’s sort of council assisting development,” Armstrong said.

The cash in lieu funds go into a parking reserve, and do not replace a developer’s responsibility to provide on-site parking. The funds go toward accommodating the parking demand created by developments in the area by requiring a $4,500 fee to be paid per stall. This number is near the lowest paid for cash in lieu out of 20 communities, explained Town CAO Jon Wilsgard.

The Town has around $85,700 in the parking reserve, which can be used to create, improve, or obtain parking areas.

If provincial negotiations go well with CP Rail, and the land is acquired to reroute Highway 95 along the CP Rail parking lot and replace the Highway 95 bridge, the Town of Golden may need to use some of the funds to create new parking areas along Main Street, or by the cinema.

To satiate the downtown user’s needs for all day parking, the CP Rail parking lot currently offers a large area for day use and overnight parking.

Armstrong explained that there are considerations going on about turning some of the angled parking on Main Street to day-use parking stalls.

Council decided that two-thirds of the parking stalls across from 509 Main Street and the Credit Union could be converted into day-long parking.

Previous studies indicate that parking downtown is only at 60 per cent occupancy.

This percentage includes all of the available parking stalls, and the Town would like to see that percentage increase to 85 per cent usage.

At the higher occupancy level, approximately one to two on-street parking stalls would be available per block.

Armstrong hopes that the changes in the parking strategies will help mitigate how long people are using the stalls for, and access to businesses downtown.

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