Parking spots can be hard to come by around Nanaimo hospital, but new strategies, including pay parking, are intended to alleviate the crunch.
A parking strategy is in the works and is a component of a new hospital area plan. That plan, presented as an official community plan amendment, passed first and second readings at a Nanaimo city council meeting last Monday.
The plan was first presented to council last month and Brian Zurek, city planner, told councillors at that time that the concept of pay parking had been “front and centre” in the hospital parking strategy all along.
“There are some people who think it would really benefit the availability of parking in the area and some people who are opposed to it, but I think, on balance, to achieve some of the goals that we’ve set out, pay parking will likely be a recommendation,” he said.
Jamie Rose, city manager of transportation, said at last week’s meeting that parking in the area is currently more or less unregulated.
“We have ongoing concern in the neighbourhood over the parking issue around that neighbourhood,” he said.
The parking strategy report was just for council’s information, and Rose said staff would prepare a related business plan as part of a future financial planning process.
The report suggests a phased approach. In Phase 1, potentially 2019, pay parking would be introduced along Boundary Avenue and Dufferin Crescent on the sides of the streets adjacent to the hospital property. On the opposite side of Dufferin, two-hour parking would be implemented, and numerous neighbouring streets would see time restrictions on parking with residents exempt.
A review would follow, and if necessary, a second phase could happen in 2021 that would see pay parking on both sides of Dufferin and two-hour parking zones expanded on Dufferin and Boundary.
The hospital area plan, according to a staff report, is meant to represent a guide to development of the area, with more detailed land-use designations, transportation enhancements and park and public space improvements. Zurek showed concepts of streetscapes, including Dufferin.
“What you’ll see is more space for pedestrians, cyclists and also additional landscaping,” he said. “It’s very much an urban environment, with storefront retail and outdoor patios … That’s a concept for the main street.”
He mentioned as well the idea of a “wellness walk” pedestrian pathway in and around the hospital, improvements for those who wish to walk or sit in Beaufort Park, and some sort of “gateway” public space in the neighbourhood.
Jim Goldsack, spokesman for the Hospital Area Neighbourhood Association, spoke in favour of the plan last week and asked councillors to support it.
“I can tell you that the community at large and our neighbourhood organization had many questions and at times, real hard questions in regards to the parking … that was the major issue we had, [and] walkability, the safety issues of the neighbourhood,” he said. “And we felt, at the very end, that we were heard.”
Goldsack liked the idea of the hospital neighbourhood being acknowledged and written into the OCP.
“Our neighbourhood has seen much growth, and with this plan going forward, we envision a community that will grow and with a vision we can be proud of,” he said.
Now that the official community plan amendment bylaw has passed first and second readings, it will proceed to the public hearing stage.