The city would not even recoup the monthly charge for a ticket machine with revenue from the proposed Gordon Street parking lot, a staff report shows.
“While [a parking lot] seemed like a reasonable idea, it doesn’t appear to make much sense from an economic point of view,” said Mayor Bill McKay.
Nanaimo city council had city staff members look into the potential to turn 100 Gordon St. into an interim pay parking lot, but with estimated costs of more than $72,000 and no anticipation of recouping costs, at least three politicians aren’t interested.
A new parking lot could offer 20-30 new stalls for cars, or up to four buses and recreational vehicles and 15 cars, but the costs would be significant, according to recently released staff report, which pegs gravel parking alone to cost $72,500. To create a paved parking lot would cost $163,000, not including street lighting and landscaping.
Staff members also believe there would be a low utilization rate of pay parking, which would compete with existing free on-street parking options and underground facilities next door. Revenue would not be enough to cover the monthly $500 operating charge for the ticket machine or pay back capital construction.
“If we have parking spaces available and this one will be little used, I can’t see making that kind of capital expenditure for something we’ll never recover its cost,” said McKay, who said the most telling for him was that the rent of the parking machine wouldn’t be recovered.
Councillors Jerry Hong and Wendy Pratt both agreed the property needs to be cleaned up, but they are not convinced the city should turn it into pay parking after reading the staff report.
Pratt said nothing in the report made her believe the city could make lots of money on a pay parking lot and doesn’t believe “that kind of money” should be invested into it.
It’s far too integral a property in downtown, said Pratt, who wants to see it actively marketed.
Hong, who called the cost of a gravel parking lot “ridiculous,” said he’s in favour of seeing the property offered to the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association in the interim for merchant parking. The organization would be responsible for management and putting in gravel or pavement.
The report will go to a council meeting Monday. Coun. Bill Bestwick, who proposed the motion for a pay parking lot, did not return phone calls or text messages.