New businesses that move into existing space in downtown Sidney might not have to provide extra parking.
In a move by the municipality that the mayor says could help draw new businesses to town, they are considering changing their parking bylaw. Currently, the bylaw requires five parking spaces per each retail store. If that store was replaced by a restaurant, says Director of Development Services Marlaina Elliot, the owners would be required to increase parking spaces to 10. That essentially means a restaurant could not go into that space as Sidney doesn’t have an excess of parking spots downtown.
The proposed change to the bylaw would allow commercial use of a building or storefront turn over, without the requirement for additional parking spaces.
“This proposed change could help bring business to town,” Elliot said.
Mayor Larry Cross noted the existing bylaw could be detrimental to getting business to locate in Sidney’s downtown. Yet he added he’s aware of ongoing concerns over a lack of parking — or a perceived one — in the commercial centre.
“People walk for miles in shopping malls, but in Sidney,” Cross said, “it seems people won’t walk 150 meters.”
Councillor Mervyn Lougher-Goodey added that parking lots in town are well-used, meaning there is a concern with parking availability.
“We have some problems here,” he said, “but they are good problems.”
Cross said full parking spaces is an indicator to some that the community is busy — and that’s good news.
Town staff have been directed to explore the change further.