Maple Ridge council will review parking bids

Parkade needed near Haney bus exchange, once B-line to Coquitlam begins, says councillor

  • Jan. 27, 2017 5:00 p.m.
The city has asked for bids to run its four parking lots downtown

The city has asked for bids to run its four parking lots downtown

Any proposals for a new parking system in downtown Maple Ridge will have to get through council first.

The request for bids to operate five downtown parking lots, four of which are owned by the city, was issued in January with a request to show a “clear and concise overview” of how each bidder intends to grow revenues.

The Maple Ridge Downtown Parking Association has operated the lots for the last two and half decades on a non-profit basis, turning over the net proceeds of about $14,000 yearly to the city.

But there’s no intent on removing parking lots, chief administrator Ted Swabey said at Monday’s council workshop.

“Whether the municipality provides public parking in the future is something that council needs to decide,” he added.

“I think the private sector, if there’s a market, will pick up the slack.”

In the request for proposals, the city could also expand any deal with a contractor later to include the 750 other city-owned parking stalls.

Coun. Gordy Robson said the purpose behind the bidding process seems to be about making money for the city. He’s concerned about the city losing trust with downtown businesses.

The downtown parking association was told last summer about the request, a decision which stems from the previous council, legislative clerk Laurie Darcus told council.

Robson was one of the original founders of the parking association when it was formed in the 1990s, with the intent of providing downtown spaces for employees of businesses, leaving the prime spots for shoppers.

Downtown businesses, back then, paid a property tax levy to cover the $1.5 million the city borrowed to buy the lots, plus interest. Two parking lots were also donated by local businessmen.

Robson, along with Coun. Bob Masse, who has a business downtown, both said there’s a shortage of downtown parking.

That shortage could worsen with the arrival in a few years of the B-line express bus connecting the bus loop at Haney Place Mall to the new Evergreen line in Coquitlam.

“I think we should be talking to TransLink right now,” about funding a multi-storey parkade next to the bus loop, Robson said.

“Let’s talk about what we’re going to do in the future.”

Masse added that Maple Ridge is not Vancouver.

“People can’t get their head around paying $8.25 to park.”

The parking issue concerns Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association executive-director Ineke Boekhorst, who says the issue is on the agenda for the next board meeting.

“It [the parking association] is a great source of parking in our downtown,” Boekhorst said.

Bruce Fuller, who runs Fuller Watson BrandSource Home Furnishings, said parking is crucial for downtown businesses.

The business has its own parking lot in the back for employees and customers, but many people like to park on the street just outside the store.

However, every new building in the downtown increases the demand for parking, not just from permanent residents, but from visitors, while city parking enforcement on weekends is lacking, he added.

Megan Rowland, who works at MNP accountants on 224th Street, said her company leases four stalls from the city’s 119th Avenue lot.

“Parking is already a nightmare over here.”

She wonders about the benefit of privatizing the operation of the lots, saying they could end up with higher prices and shorter hours and said the current system is working.

“We need more parking, especially if they want people to shop local,” she said.

“So why change? Leave well enough alone if it works.”

One of the lots, on Brown Avenue, with 40 stalls, was sold in 2014 to the developer of the property who plans on building condos. The lot is still managed by the parking association and the city holds a long-term lease for the property.

Once new condos are built on the property, the parking lot will close.

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News leases several stalls on that property for its employees.

Proceeds from the sale of that property will be used in acquiring parking elsewhere.

According to city property manager Darrell Denton, net proceeds from the sales of parking rights will be set aside in support of public parking to ensure that there is no net loss of public parking spaces.

The city also requires the builder to create a certain number of public parking spaces as it builds the condo towers.