Despite Windsor parking woes, city staff advise against it being an immediate priority

·3 min read
Parking garage in downtown Windsor. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC - image credit)
Parking garage in downtown Windsor. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC - image credit)

Though parking has been a long-standing issue in Windsor, city staff are advising against making the concern an immediate priority.

A report headed to council Monday briefly addresses parking availability and current control measures across the city.

The report is in response to an inquiry made by Ward 4 Counc. Chris Holt in March. At the time, Holt wanted administration to look at the nine Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in the city and the amount of on/off-street parking needed to prevent drivers from 'spilling into' residential streets.

The report notes that "public parking in and around BIAs is a limited resource that faces increasing demands."

It references the city's Active Transportation Master Plan — which was adopted by council in 2019 — and advises that a parking study and survey be completed around the nine BIAs. This, according to the report, would help the city better understand needed strategies.

But the report adds that the city should not pursue these just yet due to city staffing levels and funding, as the study is estimated to cost at least $200,000.

The report also states that the city should wait until "the impacts of the current pandemic have stabilized and their ramifications are better understood."

"The study that they asked us to look at [is] to do a parking review of all nine BIAs plus the area around them, it's quite a large area, it would take around 200 city blocks," said Jeff Hagan, the city's transportation planning senior engineer.

And some Walkerville residents agree that while this has been an ongoing issue, now might not be the right time for a study.

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

"Doing a survey right now on this is going to give you an artificial sense of what's going on, given that we're in the middle of COVID," said Walkerville resident Matt Woods.

He added that street patios and cafes have been good additions to the city, but might throw off a study.

Alleys, active transportation infrastructure possible solutions

Walkerville resident Shane Mitchell told CBC News that while this isn't a big concern for him he knows people in other parts of the city, particularly those off of Wyandotte Street and Ottawa Street, experience this firsthand.

He suggested that the city "holistically" look at the problem, adding that that means taking into consideration options for business owners, residents, and commuters.

Mitchell has background expertise in city planning and development.

"Sometimes we have a bit of a knee jerk reaction, we want to prohibit parking on residential streets because it's felt that it's being misused by restaurant-goers or people who want to shop in the area — that's a bit of a tricky situation," he said.

"If we were to look at this not as a parking problem but as a transportation question — so how are we getting around our community? — I think that would be a better way to approach it."

He offered three possible solutions:

  • A district parking strategy created by the BIAs, such as building a parking structure or creating mutual agreements between businesses to share their parking spaces.

  • Making public transit a "viable option," along with improving active transportation infrastructure for bikes and scooters.

  • City could better maintain alley-ways, which is where parking is located for many Walkerville residents.

Similarly, Hagan said he hopes this report forces council to think about "the direction they want the city to go in."

He added that the city has master plans available that suggest more walk-able, bike-able and transit-friendly changes.

"It's worth stepping back, thinking what measures we can take to certainly accommodate auto-users as well as trying to achieve that vision," he said.

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