Parking swapped for bicycle stalls, car-share program

NANAIMO – City council approved the reduction of parking for a hospital-area apartment, from 170 to 109 spaces.

Parking spaces will be swapped out for shared cars and bicycle stalls at a new Nanaimo apartment complex.

Nanaimo city council has just given the green light for a developer to cut 35 per cent of its parking spaces at a hospital-area apartment building geared toward young professionals. Instead it will offer more than 60 bicycle stalls and two car-share vehicles.

While the Molnar Group has included bike stalls at its other Nanaimo development – The Crest on Terminal Avenue – this is the first time it’s bought into a car-share program. It will purchase two vehicles, which will be leased and operated by Nanaimo CarShare Cooperative for tenants.

Those behind the project say people are moving away from car use to save money or protect the environment. The Crest reportedly only sees 30 per cent of its parking stalls used. While some tenants will still have cars, giving people options to bike, take transit and share cars adds to the appeal of the building, according to owner Andre Molnar.

“The bottom line is we really, really believe that people are shying away from vehicles more and more,” he said. “Owning a car to the young generation, between 25 and 40, is not as important as it was when I was 25.”

Building architect David Echaiz-McGrath with Wensley Architecture LTD, said the project on Summerhill Place also targets hospital employees, who have the ability to live, work and play in the neighbourhood and won’t necessarily want to have a car.

“They have their grocery shop nearby, they have a fitness centre, they have quite a lot of amenities just around this area,” he said.

Reduced parking, which required council approval, sparked concern about adding pressure on an area notorious for parking problems, but Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development, said having a development that accommodates its own parking wouldn’t make the problem worse. City staff also anticipate new measures on the way that will help address congestion issues, such as a permit system.