Bob Jones and Lynda Lawrence of the Downtown Parking Society at one of the downtown district lots that could be sold and developed.

Bob Jones and Lynda Lawrence of the Downtown Parking Society at one of the downtown district lots that could be sold and developed.

Three Ridge parking lots for sale?

Developers eyeing Maple Ridge’s downtown properties

Maple Ridge could be putting ‘For sale’ signs on some of its downtown parking lots, which could kickstart more building, if council agrees with a staff report.

Because developers are eyeing the properties, and with a municipal plan in place for disposing of the lots, staff can start discussions on proposals for some sites.

On Monday, council looked at an update, which laid out the possible futures of the nine municipal lots.

Two of them, one on the east side of 227th Street near Save-on Foods, the other behind the Bella Vita restaurant on Lougheed Highway at 225th Street, should be sold when the time is right, to support nearby developments. Proceeds would help fund future parking lots.

Two of the district’s larger parking lots, on 119th Avenue and on Selkirk Avenue, both just off 224th Street, should be open to “development opportunities,” providing there’s no net loss in the number of parking stalls.

The same goes for two smaller lots on Brown Avenue and North Avenue.

The four lots are “strategically located” to serve specific areas in the downtown, the report says.

Coun. Bob Masse likes the idea, providing there’s truly no net-loss in the number of parking stalls downtown. If a developer builds an apartment building that requires 40 parking stalls, that number, plus the existing number of public parking stalls must be provided.

“We have to make this permanently embedded in the paperwork so that nobody can change their minds later,” said Masse, who owns a chiropractic clinic downtown.

“I think it’s absolutely worth looking at.”

But details about how the parking spaces would be preserved should a developer buy one of the district lots weren’t in the report.

Council reviewed the update at its committee meeting and sent it on for further discussion after first looking at it in the fall.

Maple Ridge district owns nine parking lots, five of which are managed by the Downtown Parking Society,  formed in the 1990s to help provide employee parking in the downtown, and free up customer parking on downtown streets.

Downtown businesses paid a property tax levy to cover the $1.5 million the district borrowed to buy the properties.

The report says Maple Ridge’s downtown is flat and compact, which makes for easy walking. It adds that some of the lots are “prime locations” and are expected to keep getting proposals for other uses.

There is “increasing interest” for other uses for the lots, it adds later.

As for the remaining district parking lots, the Edge Street parking lot near Haney Place Mall should be kept, and could be turned into an underground lot. No changes are recommended for the lot on Dewdney Trunk Road in front of municipal hall or for the underground parkade, which serves the Leisure Centre and Arts Centre Theatre.

Downtown parking society chairman Bob Jones said previously that the society should be involved in the discussions given the amount of volunteer work over the years that the society has done.

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