At peak times of traffic in downtown Sidney, only 69 per cent of parking stalls, on average, are being used.
That’s one of the main findings in a draft update to the Town’s parking study. The work was done by Watt Consulting Ltd., the same firm that did a similar study for the Town in 2007.
That percentage, noted Councillor Mervyn Lougher-Goodey, indicates that Sidney does not have a parking problem —a finding he noted that has repeated itself in past reports.
“There is a problem with parking,” he added, “if you want to park right in front of the store you’re going to … but not if you can walk one or two blocks.”
The report shows there are hot spots of parking within the downtown — most notable in the south east area (between Seaport Place and Third Street) where spaces can be full.
However, the consultants pointed out even if those spaces are full, their research found that even in peak times, drivers could easily find a place to park one or two blocks from “any destination.”
The consultants added their data is only reliable for five years, as traffic conditions could change.
They did recommend some long-term solutions to parking concerns. Those include building a new 30-stall parking lot, ideally next to the Mary Winspear Centre.
They also suggested reducing parking times for stalls between Bevan and Beacon avenues from two hours to one hour. That elicited groans from the audience at the council meeting July 11.
The consultants asserted people are driving less and reducing the time people can park in those stalls will help ensure faster turnover.
Coun. Erin Bremner-Mitchell noted Sidney has a lot of people with mobility issues and reducing time in the stalls could negatively impact them. She asked if adding more handicap spaces would be appropriate.
The consultants replied that those spaces are only at 40 per cent occupancy in peak times and can handle more.
The report also suggests the Town have a plan for a parkade in the wings and focus its parking enforcement on areas where use is the highest.
They also suggested Sidney select a single, standardized parking sign — as opposed to the 11 types currently in use.
Council voted to accept the report. Town staff will review it and present more details and recommendations at a later date.