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Parking survey reveals support for park-and-ride commuter parking strategy

The parking survey also revealed support for free commuter parking outside of the downtown “in order to encourage use and leave core parking for short-term and residential parking."

The lack of commuter and all day parking remains one of the biggest bones Nelsonites have to pick with the city when it comes to parking issues.

The most common tales told in the parking saga of Nelson remain constant, with commuter parking heading the list, said city planner Alex Thumm in a presentation to city council Monday night on the results of the initial public and stakeholder consultations concerning the downtown parking strategy project.

The survey also revealed support for free commuter parking outside of the downtown “in order to encourage use and leave core parking for short-term and residential parking.”

In fact, day-rate commuter parking was slightly more popular than monthly permits, explained Thumm. 

“This likely reflects the needs of part-time workers,” he said.

One of the solutions for all-day commuter parking may be to use the city’s parkade, according to survey results. 

Most days, just over half of respondents commute by car (alone or with others), the report found. Around 23 per cent of respondents typically use alternative transport to commute or a combination of means that included walking or transit, with cycling being common in the summer. 

“The majority of respondents make use of other means of transport at least once per week,” Thumm said in his presentation.

There was lots of interest in a shuttle or park-and-ride system. The majority view was that a park-and-ride system needed to be free and frequent, with bus or shuttle service running every 10 to 30 minutes during peak hours between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., and then between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. 

“Many people suggested that small shuttle buses or vans should be used instead of full-sized buses; ideally, they would be electric,” the report found. 

But just where the new park-and-ride spaces would be located is a question, said Coun. Keith Page.

Thumm noted that a conversation has already taken place amongst the city, the regional district, BC Transit and Ministry of Transportation and Highways.

“We will likely be working with the regional district and BC Transit to identify possible new places,” he said.

There are two locations at the edge of the city already — south toward Salmo and west toward Castlegar — where people are choosing to park and ride, noted Thumm.

Interest was expressed in having secured bike parking at the park-and-ride where regular commuters could store their bikes.

Thumm highlighted a “tension” between city residents and non-residents“ when it came to parking in the lower reaches of Uphill, often with each group believing that they should have easy or free parking whereas the other should have to pay.”

However, the enforcement of parking in those lower regions of Nelson wasn’t an issue, noted Thumm.

“Although some people are frustrated by getting parking tickets, more respondents believed that there isn’t enough parking enforcement, especially in Lower Uphill,” he said in his presentation. “There is general dissatisfaction with the two-hour parking model in Lower Uphill, which work neither for residents, they cannot find parking, nor for commuters who are required to move their vehicles every two hours.”

Around 10 per cent of the respondents to the survey said parking was too expensive or it should be free, while the same number of people wanted better transit.

Thumm explained there is a strong interest in improving transit and creating a robust park-and-ride system, with 69 per cent of respondents wanting to invest parking revenue into such a system.

Around eight per cent of people asked for better cycling infrastructure. The active transportation element of the parking strategy may be one way to eliminate parking pressures, the survey found.

“Improving active transportation infrastructure is seen by many as key to the

parking strategy,” the report read. “This includes improving cycling ease-of-use as well as keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice in the winter.”

Seven per cent of respondents felt long trucks (often with snowmobiles) parked in angle stalls were a problem. In fact, Thumm said there was “broad discontent” with the long trucks in the angled spots.

Overall, people are not against paying for parking, said Thumm. According to the survey, 70 per cent of respondents agree with the sentiment of “working towards reliable, better allocated parking, so that people know where they can go to find parking.”

The city’s pay station experiment is faltering. Most people want to pay for parking with an “app” rather than using paystations.

There was some interest in reforming the residential parking permit system, noted Thumm, but not as much as expected.

The report will be brought forth at a later date by city council to create a list of action items in order to implement some of the plan’s information.

The survey reports will be made publicly available on the city’s website.