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Surrey council moves to reduce parking along rapid transit corridors

Surrey city council aims to cut back on parking available to Surrey motorists along major rapid transit lines in an effort to wean drivers off their cars and get more people using public transit.

Council endorsed a corporate report to that end at its June 14 council meeting, with city staff recommending reducing parking minimums in rapid transit areas as well as reducing parking requirements for rental housing developments and extending in-lieu of parking options to rapid transit areas at $20,000 per stall.

“I think with encouragement of using rapid transit, with our SkyTrain going to be built very soon which will go through the centre of our city, the need for parking stalls isn’t there,” Mayor Doug McCallum said.

The mayor noted that land developers have been telling city hall that by not doing so many parking stalls they can lower the cost of building in Surrey.

“That’s s huge factor,” McCallum said. “Parking stalls are very expensive, thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars per stall and for them not to have to do so much literally lowers their costs, therefore it lowers the cost of the housing, so it’s at least one measure that has huge advantage I think to try to start to try to control the cost of housing.”

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Councillor Mandeep Nagra, chairman of the city’s development advisory committee, said studies have revealed that in parts of Surrey closer to rapid transit areas “only” 45 per cent of the parking lots are being used.

“This is a great step forward in reducing those requirements,” Nagra said of the recommendations contained in the corporate report. “We’re going to be seeing less applications for parking reduction variances and all that and at the same time I think we’re promoting more people to use public transport. This is going to reduce the cars on our streets.”

The report, by Scott Neuman, Surrey’s general manager of engineering, and Jean Lamontagne, Surrey’s general manager of planning and development, called on council to endorse staff recommendations that define Rapid Transit Areas as containing the existing Expo SkyTrain line as well as corridors planned for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain expansion and Surrey-Newton-Guildford. It also recommended reducing multi-family residential parking requirements in these areas, setting new market rental housing parking requirements and expanding “alternative” parking provisions in these areas such as car sharing, cycling and walking.

Neuman and Lamontagne noted that as Surrey grows, transit service improves, and transportation choices increase, supply and management of off-street parking need to be reviewed “both in terms of its day-to-day impact on the public

and its role in helping to shape the future development of the city.

The authors of the report state that management of off-street parking is a “powerful tool” for achieving the principles of smart development.

“Creating reduced parking requirements, and the additional flexibility provided by alternative parking provisions, will reduce the need for parking variances and create a consistent approach for both developers and city staff,” they maintain.

“The management of off-street parking is critical to achieving long-term transportation goals and is an

effective way to support existing rapid transit on the Expo Line and planned investments on the SLS

and SNG corridors.”
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Tom Zytaruk

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