An off-street parking bylaw open house was held Tuesday night at the Beban Park social centre. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Editorial: New parking requirements provide a nudge

The City of Nanaimo is in the midst of reviewing its off-street parking bylaw

There aren’t a lot of places in Nanaimo where parking is at a premium, but that could change over the coming years.

The City of Nanaimo is in the midst of reviewing its off-street parking bylaw, which basically sets out how much parking developers have to provide when they put up apartment or condo buildings.

At the moment, developers are asked to provide 1.66 parking stalls for every unit in multi-family developments, but the city is looking at varying that number in different neighbourhoods. In most places, it will mean fewer parking stalls need to be set aside. The city’s transportation master plan ideals envision significant increases to pedestrian and cycling travel over the next 20 years, with gains being made in and around certain commercial hubs.

RELATED: Draft parking bylaw would treat each development differently

There’s an argument that people in Nanaimo are dependent on our cars, that our city is too spread out, our buses still too infrequent. All those things are true, and while city planning can have an effect, ultimately it will be individuals who make their own transportation decisions.

Even significant changes to parking requirements won’t have drastic effects on parking availability. In practice, the requirements are already fluid, because developers can request variances that city council can approve or deny. For example, in January, a seniors’ affordable housing project on Prideaux Street was granted a variance from 57 parking spaces to 17 and last month, a condo project on Metral Drive received a variance from 167 stalls to 106.

Even under a new off-street parking bylaw, this city council and the councils that come after it will continue to have a say on variances, thereby influencing the pace of change on transportation.

It’s worth it to try to accelerate alternative transportation now, and it can be done while making sure there are still enough parking spaces to go around.

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