Moncton hopes people will walk, bus when going to new downtown centre

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Moncton hopes people will walk, bus when going to new downtown centre

The City of Moncton is hoping more people will want to walk, carpool or take public transit when the new downtown events centre opens in September.

Staff presented the plan to council Tuesday night, detailing how to accommodate people coming to and from the 8,800-seat centre. 

In addition to watching the QMHJL's Moncton Wildcats play hockey, people will come to the centre for concerts — with big events expected to draw close to 10,000 people.

The first announced event is a Keith Urban concert on Sept. 12.

In its presentation to council, city staff estimated 2,982 parking spots are available for event-goers within walking distance of the sports and entertainment centre.

The 2,982 parking spots the city said are within a 15-minute walk are:

- Spots in city-owned parking lots: 545

- Metered spots on the street: 638

- Free spots on the street: 1,035

- Spots reserved for people with reduced mobility near centre entrance: 24

- Spots in private lots reserved for season ticket holders for the Wildcats: 300

- Spots in private lots reserved for SMG suite holders: 40

- Spots in private open to the public: 400

When the initial plan was presented to council last June, it was told 4,000 parking spots would be available to event-goers.

Isabelle LeBlanc, the director of communications for the City of Moncton, attributed the discrepancy to spots the city is still hoping to negotiate with private parking-lot owners.

"Now it's time for us to go out and be able to secure some of those, and work with some private lot owners to say, 'OK, you know what, are you on board? Perfect, we're going to promote your lot," said LeBlanc.

Concerns for neighbours

At the meeting, Coun. Paul Pellerin expressed concern residents who live nearby might get frustrated when their street parking is taken over every few days by people attending an event at the new centre.

"There's supposed to be over a hundred events a year correct? So that's one every three days," said Pellerin.

"I got a gut feeling with over a hundred events, somebody at some point is not going to appreciate having cars in front of their residence," he said.

Other councillors were more optimistic.

"It's just going to take a little bit of getting used to," said Coun. Greg Turner.

"We'll get over it."

The city's communications director said they "are not worried at all" about the parking concerns.

"There are not sold out events every night. When you are living so close to downtown, typically people would kind of expect there'd be a bit more traffic than if you were living on the outskirts," she said.

'If we want to be a hip town'

LeBlanc said the city is hoping Moncton residents will slowly change their habits and consider leaving the car at home more often.

"It's been very easy for people over the years, just driving to the coliseum, and parking, and that's it, you get out," said LeBlanc.

"If we want to be a hip town, and a city that inspires and a place that attracts young people, we need to be more active. We need to make it easier for people to live downtown, and to be able to walk downtown. It's an adjustment, there's no doubt about it."

The city will launch a website on June 20, where people can enter the address they're coming from, and see their options to get to the events centre.

Part of the city's plan also includes making room for a taxi drop-off and pickup point on Highfield Street, and a general drop-off point on Cameron Street, with new bylaws expected to go into effect June 1. 

It is also working to advertise its new website in newspapers and on social media in the coming weeks, and add signs throughout the downtown directing people to the events centre.

Correction : An earlier version of this story said incorrectly that the plan for getting people to Moncton's downtown events centre cost $400,000. In fact, that dollar figure was for an earlier study of several issues, including a way to address the need for transportation and parking for centre visitors.(May 23, 2018 6:33 PM)