One of the concerns that has plagued the proposed Plaza and downtown restoration projects, including Mill Market, is parking.
During the meeting at which council voted to give $1.4 million towards the mill market relocation into the area, Councillor Matt Scott brought the concerns forward again.
Attempts to quantify the volume of people who access the Mill Market started when Corey Gardi asked how many people use the vendor’s site at it’s current location.
“On a Saturday, up to 3000 people,” stated Tom Vair, Deputy CAO Community Development and Enterprise Services.
That number then prompted Scott to ask the question on the minds of many in the community. Where are they all going to park?
“In regards to the 3000 people, how many parking spaces do we have downtown? And how many were we adding to this?,” asked Scott.
“The Plaza itself will have approximately 29 spaces,” answered Vair. “But when we’ve looked at the parking in and around the plaza area, we find there’s more than enough parking within North City parking lot, with the on-street parking on Queen and Brock, with the lots in behind Queen. We’ve got a lot of parking in that area. So we’re comfortable that there will be lots of parking for people who attend the market.”
Currently, at the West-end location, there are approximately 100 spaces and frequently you will see people parked on the Machine Shop property, crossing the roadway on a Saturday morning.
There are 3 spots at the current location for accessible parking needs, all within a couple of hundred feet of the door.
Given 29 spaces being provided for the Plaza project, but not the Mill Market project, it must be noted that provincial regulations require 4% of those spaces to be accessible as the lot is between 13-100 spaces. Meaning, if the City followed the law to the letter, 1.16 spots of the 29 would be accessible.
Parking at any of the other locations mentioned by Vair requires crossing high-traffic roadways and occupying precious spots for other downtown businesses.
Scott then asked for a peak number during a busy hour on a Saturday. Although Vair didn’t have that number, Brett Lamming, Director of Community Services was able to provide it as well as correct Vair on the number he originally provided.
“On a peak Saturday up to 4000 people would be there…on any given Saturday, even through COVID, the lowest number was 700. And we’re at capacity of 40 vendors right now,” said Lamming. “At any one time with 4000 over the day, you’re looking at probably in the neighbourhood of over 500 people at any one time.”
Councillor Scott questioned, for the sake of confirmation, if they believed there is enough parking, even assuming not everyone is going to drive, for 500 people at any one time to attend the new market site, to which Vair said, “Yes, that’s correct.”
Only time will tell if there is, in fact, enough parking and if the same number of people attend the Market when it comes to its new location.
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