Jim Goldsack, president of the Hospital Area Neighbourhood Association, calls a city parking study around the hospital a wonderful idea and well overdue. TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/News Bulletin

Hospital-area parking will be studied

The City of Nanaimo will develop a hospital-area plan which will include a look at parking

Hospital-area parking will be studied this year as the city buckles down on a new strategy.

It’s a “wonderful thing,” according to Jim Goldsack, president of the Hospital Area Neighbourhood Association, who finds cars that used to park one or two blocks from the hospital are now parked four, five and six blocks away, double-parked and parked in driveways.

“It’s an issue we really need to address,” he said.

Whether it’s finding a spot to squeeze a car or congested residential streets, parking has been an issue for Nanaimo’s hospital area. This year, the city plans to launch a parking study with some of the results informing a hospital area plan, which includes a parking strategy.

The city has received ongoing complaints from residents that streets adjacent to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital have high parking occupancy, making it difficult for them to find on-street parking near their homes. Island Health has reported hearing concerns from its staff that on-site parking supply isn’t sufficient to meet demand at peak hours. New residential development in the area has led to an increase in on-street parking and concern among residents, which a strategy would address, a request for proposals for the study shows.

The work ahead will include holding open houses, taking inventory of on-street parking supply and demand, examining turnover and usage within hospital parking lots, and identifying issues and mitigation strategies.

Goldsack likes the idea of the hospital area plan and study because it’s going to get all the parties together, like future developers and businesses.

“If everybody comes to the table and comes up with ideas, maybe some of those ideas are going to address of those issues,” he said. “I know myself, our association, is really pleased that the city has approved the expenditure of taking a look at the neighbourhood plan for the hospital.”

The city will not release the budget for the study, with the work open for bids.

The hospital area plan, the first for Nanaimo’s five urban nodes, has a $100,000 budget and will cover policy direction to manage growth in the area, and short- and long-term action on transportation, parking, land-use density and services, according to Bruce Anderson, city manager of community and cultural planning.

“When you have significant areas, like a downtown or in this case the hospital area or the Woodgrove area, it certainly makes a lot of sense to try to look to the future and make sure you manage any of the expected outcomes of growth and expansion or any change in those areas,” he said.

The request for proposal for the parking study closes April 25.