Coun. Gordy Robson says downtown is facing a parking shortage.

Coun. Gordy Robson says downtown is facing a parking shortage.

Downtown Maple Ridge parkade needed?

Demand could increase with B-Line bus service.

A Maple Ridge councillor suggests building a multi-storey parkade in downtown Maple Ridge in anticipation of demand once a B-line bus to the Coquitlam SkyTrain station is in place.

Coun. Gordy Robson thinks such a parkade could fit between the Haney bus loop and Haney Place Mall and serve as a park and ride.

“We should be concentrating right now on making that a parkade beside the bus depot,” Robson said last week.

In addition, the city should put two- or three storeys on some of its four other existing parking lots.

The City of Maple Ridge owns four downtown parking lots, which have been managed by the Maple Ridge Downtown Parking Society. That contract is now up for bids.

Robson has been promoting the idea of a parkade for a while and said TransLink should be willing to help with the costs, just as it’s done for pay parking elsewhere at SkyTrain or West Coast Express stops.

“I know TransLink would definitely be interested. They put park and ride everywhere,” he said.

“I’m guessing we’re 500 spots short right now.”

The parkade could be used by RCMP, mall staff, the public and “people who park and ride. Because they could park there and get right on the B-line.”

A B-line bus service direct from Maple Ridge to Coquitlam Centre is supposed to begin in the next few years, as part of the Phase 1 of 10-year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transportation.

Robson estimates the parkade could be up to 400 stalls.

He adds that the downtown already faces a parking shortage, saying that the city can’t hold meetings at city hall because of a lack of parking.

Robson said federal infrastructure funding should be considered as one source of money, adding he’s not sure if the city has to provide parking for Ridge Meadows RCMP employees.

Mayor Nicole Read said the B-line to Coquitlam and the bus service to Silver Valley must get going first.

“I think in terms of getting the B-line and the service running to Silver Valley, I think for our public, that’s the bigger priority.”

She added that Maple Ridge was lucky to get the B-line service in the first phase of TransLink’s 10-year plan.

The issue of a parkade could naturally come up as the B-line service is implemented.

“Right now, we’re focused on the B-line. Parking will come in the course of the conversation,” Read said.

But she agreed that the parkade could be a partnership with the city or mall and TransLink all chipping in, although a study needs to be done to determine where and what to build.

Maple Ridge is about to review bids to operate its downtown parking lots, (located on Selkirk Avenue, 119th Avenue, Lougheed Highway and North Avenue) after approving the contract go to tender earlier this year.

The Maple Ridge Downtown Parking Society has been managing the city’s parking lots for the last quarter century and will put in a bid to get the contract renewed.

The city recently sold another of its lots on Brown Avenue to a developer for about $800,000, which went into a savings account earmarked for downtown parking facilities.

There’s also about $327,000 in a parking reserve fund, which gets yearly revenues from the downtown parking association.

Bob Jones, with the parking association, said it would be a “tremendous” idea to put in a parkade.

But he said the topic of building a parkade hasn’t been discussed much, adding that the goal has always been to create two- or three-storey parkades on the existing lots.

More parking will be needed if the downtown develops, he added.

“So it seems to be OK at this point.”

Jones said he would have thought the existing lots would be tiered by now. But nothing’s changed in the downtown, apart from the expansion of Haney Place Mall and the building of the Westminster Savings building, as well as the construction new condo buildings.

“The town hasn’t grown in 26 years. What’s new?” he asked.

At The Ridge Studios, in the old Haney Bingo Plex on 224th Street, John Wittmayer is always struggling to find parking.

He rents 14 lots from the parking society for $600 a month, but that’s just the start.

He also pays a private company $3,000 a month for 30 stalls, just west of 224th Street, on Selkirk Avenue.

In addition, he pays a dental group another $1,000 a month to rent 24 stalls in another lot next to the parking society’s Selkirk Avenue lot.

He also just signed a deal for another 30 stalls on the old Mussallem Motors property on Lougheed Highway and 223rd Street.

Without such stalls available, movie companies have to pay for parking elsewhere, which eats into their profit margins.

“I know for a fact, if I don’t have adequate parking, I can’t run a business,” Wittmayer said.

“The parking issues are not going to go away. They’re just going to increase.”

He said he’d like to have access to the entire Selkirk Avenue parking lot, located just behind the studios.