Council had to delay discussions on the Columbia Avenue project Monday, as there are still no hard numbers back from tender. While the tender was supposed to close on March 23, it will now likely be delayed until the beginning of April, the CAO said this happens quite often.
Despite that, there were a number of residents and business owners that addressed council on the issue of parallel parking.
John Greene, owner of Rossland Hardware, once again voiced his opposition to the parking.
“There’s been opposition to this idea since last spring,” Greene said. “Plenty of time for the city to listen and exclude this aspect from the bidding process. Parallel parking has not been excluded.”
Greene asked council to “preserve the parking and heritage of our main street.”
Lisa Wegner spoke on behalf of the Legacy Gift Shop’s Roseanne Chobanuk, who she said was opposed to parallel parking.
“Her main concern is the preservation of the footprint of Columbia Avenue,” Wegner said, saying that she would like to see a focus on enhancing the East and West ends of Columbia Avenue rather than the centre block.
Bill Mickelthwaite spoke as, saying he agreed with the “widespread opposition of what appears to be expensive parallel parking to create a wider sidewalk that’s going to be useless and a burden to us for the greater part of the year.”
Mickelthaite added that at the same time it would sacrifice much of the parking that people use to park and do business downtown.
He was concerned that the city was ignoring the public, namely the 616 signatures opposed to the parking style.
Mayor Greg Granstrom countered that they were taking the issues into consideration, but would not be discussing the project yet as the tender and the hard numbers are not back yet.
He said that though they did have a resolution to have committee of the whole meeting, it would be prudent to discuss the facts without any actual numbers.
So council moved to have the committee meeting once they have some numbers.
Coun. Tim Thatcher summed it up:
“We have to wait until the firm numbers come in just to see if we can do the project to start with,” he said.
The meeting will be a special one to discuss the tender document.
Coun. Jill Spearn noted that a number of the public input comments were about council not paying attention to the subject of parallel parking,
Spearn argued that council was not stalling, but rather trying to do things with due diligence.
“It is of the whole project,” she said. “We’ve made no decisions for or against it.”
Renee Clark from the Chamber of Commerce presented feedback from downtown merchants on the project.
Clark delivered questionnaires to members and non members do the Chamber between March 13-16, and received 27 responses.
Many merchants felt that communication from the city could be better.
Clark also asked whether merchants would prefer a loss of 15 stalls, from the current 108 down to 93, or a loss of 25 stalls to 83 for parallel. No surprise that the fewer stalls lost was the preferred option. 17 voted for the first option, five for the second and four forno change in stalls at all.
Respondents said that parallel parking is less convenient, takes time and could back up traffic on the street.
There were things that businesses liked about project, such as safer crossings, increased off street parking and new pavement.
There biggest concern was construction phase, where they predict business revenue to go down and decreased traffic flow. Clear and co-ordinated signage for parking.
Clark said that respondents noted that summer drive through traffic would not be as inclined to stop with construction going on and the schedule is tight for completing streetscape at end of project.