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Report: New $8M-$12M parking structure needed downtown

Building The Junction, Place des Arts will remove spaces, while creating more demand for parking

When The Junction and the Place des Arts are built downtown, they will not only remove parking spaces, they will create the need for more parking, says a report headed to the finance committee May 14.

The report by an outside consultant, IBI Group, is an update to a 2017 study, which concluded that 85-90 per cent of downtown parking spots are regularly filled, and there was enough room to satisfy demand.

But the construction of the Place des Arts, which gets underway this spring, removed one city parking lot with 59 spaces, and more spaces will go when the Elgin Street Greenway is completed, as well as The Junction.

The Junction includes a new convention centre, art gallery and library, which will require parking while taking out two more downtown parking lots with a total of 246 spots. That's 305 spots being removed in total — an 18.6 per cent reduction that leaves a total of 1,332 spots downtown.

New demand includes 30 spots for the Place Des Arts and an additional 75 “no charge” parking spots for the art gallery and library. The convention centre will need 20 permit parking spots and 180 pay parking spots; the hotel to serve convention centre guests will need 10 permit parking vehicles and 90 pay parking vehicles. 

“Note that to attract a hotel investor, the parking spaces serving the hotel will need to be attached, adjacent to, or in close proximity to the hotel,” the report said. 

When all the numbers are crunched, the report said there is a need for 271 new spaces just to accommodate parking for The Junction, and 500 spaces overall. 

“Strategies to address this concern include construction of a centrally located parking facility within the downtown core,” the report said. “Based on high level industry estimates, an above-ground parking structure costs approximately $25,000 per space. Given this value, the high level cost estimate for the recommended parking structure is $12.5 million.

“The parking structure is recommended to be centrally located, ideally between the Place Des Arts and The Junction to support both developments and to maximize the number of near capacity lots within close proximity.”

However, if the city is willing to operate parking at a 90 per cent capacity, rather than 85 per cent, demand for new spaces would be reduced to 315 and a smaller parking structure at a cost of $7.87 million would work, the report said.

And improving transit and bicycling infrastructure downtown could reduce demand by another five per cent over the next 10 years. Initiatives such as offering free bus rides to the Junction and Place des Arts could reduce demand even more. Partnering with the private sector could also reduce demand, and offering free parking at the underused Energy Court parking lot could help, as well.

Read the full report here.