Study concludes parking supply in downtown core meets local demand

March 23, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

Despite numerous recent complaints on social media slamming Orangeville’s lack of downtown parking, a recent study shows the Town is currently meeting the average parking demand.

The issue was discussed at length at Monday night’s Town Council meeting as Gene Chartier, Vice-President of Paradigm Transportation Solutions Ltd. presented the results of a study his organization worked on throughout 2016.

“When we were contracted by the Town of Orangeville, we were asked to do three things – estimate what the current parking supply and demand is for the downtown core, assess the need for additional parking and provide recommendations to improve downtown parking now and in the future,” Mr. Chartier said. “Following an in-depth study, we have concluded that the current parking supply is sufficient to meet the average demand.”

Mr. Chartier noted there are currently 1,642 parking spaces in the downtown area. Those spaces are separated into three distinct groups; public on-street parking (235 spots), municipally controlled off-street parking (343 spots) and privately owned but publically accessible off-street parking (1,064 spots).

The study, funded by both the Town and the Business Improvement Area (BIA), involved parking counts on eight different days over a six-month period so as to capture fully the demand and utilization of parking across a range of days, including weekends, holidays and special-event days.

While he broke down the statistics for each individual day the organization spent compiling information, Mr. Chartier concluded that the average total parking demand in Orangeville was 575 spaces on weekdays (35 percent of total supply) and 585 spaces on weekends (36 percent of total supply). He noted the average parking demand over the survey days ranged from approximately 462 spaces on Oct. 29 to 775 spaces on July 23 (Founders Day). The study found that the average parking demand was lower on a typical weekend day than on the typical weekend.

After listening to the report, Councillor Sylvia Bradley said she hoped Council would now be able to “put this issue to rest” after hearing numerous complaints about the lack of downtown parking over the years. But Councillor Don Kidd wasn’t completely satisfied by what he heard and asked that Council consider renovating the former Orangeville Hydro property at the corner of Mill St. and Church St. into another downtown municipal parking lot.

“I’ve spoken to some of the businesses on Little York St. and Mill St. and they think it would be fabulous to have some additional parking in the area – they think it would help their business,” Coun. Kidd said. “We could add another 25 parking spaces down there. Because the land is contaminated, I’m not sure what else we could use it for.”

The rest of council didn’t seem to carry much interest in constructing another parking lot downtown, although Mayor Jeremy Williams indicated council could potentially be swayed if there were enough demand from local businesses.

“I’ve always felt our parking needs would be determined more by what the BIA wants and what the residents want and request. If our BIA members want more parking, then we’ll give them more parking. If they don’t, then we won’t,” Mayor Williams said. “Before we make a final decision on anything though, I’d like to see this (report) settle a little bit and then at another meeting we can decide whether we want to elevate our parking.”

In the end council voted in favour of implementing the recommendations put forth by the Paradigm study as budget allocations, time and resources permit. Those recommendations include optimizing parking supply and increasing efficiency through better stall identification, improving ‘wayfinding’ signage and pedestrian linkages, allocating loading areas, and providing special event shuttles. Recommended strategies to reduce parking demand included promoting other modes of transportation, increasing parking supply by constructing new parking facilities, requesting cash in lieu from developers and pursuing shared parking arrangements.

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