Kelowna’s Memorial Parkade, seen here during construction, is now open and running about 80 per cent full during peak times says the city.—Image: Capital News file

There’s no downtown Kelowna parking shortage, says city

Survey finds frequent parkers not as concerned about a shortage of spaces

Downtown parking problems may be more of a perception than reality, say Kelowna city staff.

Council was told Monday that an in-depth survey conducted by the city, in which more than 3,000 people responded online, found that people who park dowtown less frequently feel there is a lack of parking, while people who park downtown on a regular basis do not feel that is the case.

The perception problem was raised as council heard staff and a consultant propose “big ideas” that could be looked at as possible solutions to parking issues downtown.

They include:

• Variable rates for parking depending on the time of day and area parked in

• Leveraging technology to let the public know where parking spaces are available and how may are available

• Privatizing off-street parking to get the private sector involved and save the city money when it comes to creating expensive off-street parking

• Alternatives to the existing monthly parking pass system

• Using parking revenues to support alternative transportation methods

Consultant James Donnelly of Urban Systems presented the ideas to council saying several developments will likely change the parking picture in the downtown area in the future. They include the advent of ride-sharing services like Uber, the growth of car-share programs and the arrival of electric vehicles.

Between those things and the growth of the city, he said it is hard to tell how much parking will be needed downtown in the future.

The city has been adding parking spaces in recent years, having built the new Memorial Parkade on Ellis Street and expanding the nearby Library Parkade.

The Memorial Parkade was built in the expectation that the new Interior Health administrative building across the street, housing as many as 900 employees, would require hundreds of parking spaces for its employees.

But so far, the city says the parkade has only been running 80 per cent full at peak times.

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