Proposed White Rock parkade moves to hearing

Residents protest at city hall in advance of Monday council meeting

A plan for a five-level parkade near White Rock’s waterfront is moving forward to a public hearing in September, despite a public protest outside city hall on Monday afternoon.

While a crowd of some 50 people chanted “no parkade, no parkade” – and applauded speakers including longtime administration critics Dennis Lypka and Garry Wolgemuth – staff and council members gathered inside for a land use and planning committee meeting that heard a formal presentation of a report on the parkade by planning and development services director Carl Johannsen.

The report – endorsed by the committee and later at Monday night’s regular council meeting – recommended that the city move forward with a five-level option for the site, at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Vidal Street, which could be “fast-tracked” for completion in the summer of 2018.

This option, which would provide a net gain of 207 parking spaces in the west beach area, would cost almost $2 million less than a six-level parkade, but provide “better value” than a four-level option that would gain only 149 stalls.

Total projected cost for the five-level parkade is $11,155,000. So far the city has budgeted $9.1 million, of which six million is coming from long-term debt, $2.3 million from community amenity contributions (CACs) received from other projects and some $800,000 from city reserves.

During the course of discussion, Mayor Wayne Baldwin emphasized that CACs yet to be received will continue to help pay for a lot of the cost of the structure.

“A lot of money is coming our way through CACs – that’s what’s making the parkade viable,” he said.

After Coun. Helen Fathers pressed Johannsen for the business case for the parkade, chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill launched into a lengthy justification of the project that included presenting a digital spreadsheet to committee members showing calculated costs and revenues for a four- and five-level model.

Bottrill said that, after taking into account debt servicing costs, the city might make an estimated annual income of $24,000 from the parkade “after all is said and done.”

“At the end of the day it’s not about making money – I’d be as happy if it made zero,” he said, adding that the importance of the project is to make sure that the city has sufficient parking to handle the visitors during times of peak demand at the waterfront.

Bottrill told the committee that the parkade would enable the city to introduce “differentiated’ parking rates to attract longer visits to waterfront businesses – which could include a $15 all-day rate or half-day or evening rates, as opposed to metered parking at $3 per hour during peak months.

Bottrill also noted that while future needs may change, an expectation of high demand must still be considered in light of the continuing growth of Metro Vancouver.

“We don’t expect to see another parkade built… we want to maximize the capacity,” he said.

“What happens if in the future we have less reliance on the automobile? It may be, but in the near future it’s probably not going to happen.”

Depending on future usage, he said, the existence of a parkade could provide different opportunities for the waterfront.

“The city could replace existing waterfront parking lots with linear parks.”

Fathers also raised the objections of residents of The Sausalito to the parkade proposal, wondering whether there was knowledge that such a structure could be built adjacent to their building.

Johannsen said that existing CR3 zoning would have allowed for a 37-foot height off the Victoria Avenue frontage – at least three or four storeys of commercial space – and that the building was designed with angled balconies to allow for future adjacent development.

That explanation did not satisfy Sausalito resident Sandy Nightingale, one of the protesters.

She told Peace Arch News following the afternoon meeting that a lot of residents had bought condos in the building not knowing that their views could be obstructed by a parkade.

“Who do we sue?” she asked.

“The developer never gave us any of this information. This is terrible – I don’t think I can sell my condo now.”

Earlier that afternoon, protesters were angered when told that Johannsen’s report anticipated the parkade would not be used year-round, and his suggestion that events and programming in the structure could include an extension of the White Rock Farmers Market into the early spring and late fall months, art shows and sales, car shows and sporting activities including skateboarding.

A grimmer picture of potential activities inside the parkade was painted by resident and former policeman Gerry Kirk, who reminded the crowd that the completion would coincide with the federal government’s announced intention of marijuana legalization.

“You know you’re going to see the marijuana smoking, you know you’re going to see the urination,” he said.

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