The City of Victoria has been taking heat for years from people who perceive there is a lack of parking downtown.
As Mayor Lisa Helps pointed out recently, very few of the downtown parking spaces lost over the past couple of years, whether in the core or in the outer reaches, have been city-controlled. Rather, most have been eliminated through the creation of high-density developments on private property.
A good example is the construction of the Escher condominium building on a former parking lot on Broughton Street. The lot was previously owned by News’ publisher Black Press, before it and our building were sold to Chard Developments. That effectively eliminated upwards of 80 daytime parking spots used by staff at two buildings, as well as evening pay parking for YMCA-YWCA members, Royal Theatre patrons and others.
But the Chard building, like others built or underway in the general area, has underground parking for its residents, many of which likely work downtown or walk to their destination if remaining downtown.
The explosion of home-building on the West Shore, primarily, will continue to fuel the frequency of single-occupant vehicle trips into the city until rapid transit is made a reality from the suburbs. West Shore residents are increasingly working closer to home, but the a great number still drive in to town for work.
Should the City of Victoria be blamed if parking spaces are being lost as it tries to contribute to a solution by allowing more high density housing downtown? Or for analyzing how many downtown residents actually need or have a car, then deciding to reduce the requirements for underground parking spaces? We don’t think so.
People from outside the city seem to do most of the complaining about downtown parking. Ironically, Victoria is working to create density in the urban core to lessen the impact of single vehicle trips in to the city, while at the same time frustrating the very people it hopes to attract to the downtown.
It’s tough to be a city these days.