Public-private parking partnerships?

Dave Bartlett
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Frank Galgay

The City of St. John’s is in negotiations with two private developers to try to address the lack of parking downtown.

Ward 2 Coun. Frank Galgay represents the area and is chairman of the city’s planning committee.

He told The Telegram the need for more parking downtown has been an issue for a number of years.

The Downtown Development Commission (DDC) and the city first met to discuss the issue in 2006. In 2008, city council approved to cost share a $100,000 study of the parking situation with the DDC.

The study found an immediate need for 500 new parking spaces for the area.

More recently, council gave city staff the authority to negotiate agreements with Eastport Properties and Henry Bell Developments, who are both in the process of erecting parking garages in the downtown as part of other developments. Both projects have excess parking spaces which could be used by the public.

Galgay said council gave no specific parameters to staff about what kind of deal may be acceptable, but he said any agreement would be publically debated and approved at a city council meeting.

“We’ve given (staff) direction to negotiate the best possible deal, with everything on the table,” Galgay said. “I think it’s vitally important now, at this stage in our development, that we grasp the opportunity to co-operate with developers ... who are building parking garage structures and have surplus parking spaces.”

Galgay said any deal would have to benefit the city as a whole.

“If we can negotiate something that’s acceptable to council ... then we will provide hopefully 462 (parking) spaces which will address the present need,” he said.

Eastport is redeveloping the former Woolworths building on Water street into an office building and will have 246 extra parking stalls. Henry Bell plans to build condominiums at the former CBC building on Duckworth Street, which will add another 216 public parking spaces.

“If (the city) solely had to build parking lots or parking garages ourselves, I would assume it would cost significant amounts, millions of dollars,” said Galgay.

As city continues to grow, the need for more parking is likely to increase.

“It will be an ongoing problem that will have to be addressed,” Galgay added.

With the city’s budget preparations for the coming year on the horizon, and a projected deficit on the books, Galgay said any deal will be evaluated closely.

But he said public parking is an important service the city provides, along with water and sewer, garbage collection, road work and snow clearing.

“With that service comes a dollar figure or an expenditure,” he said.

Galgay also noted that Fortis Properties is building a 12-story office building at the former Horwood Lumber property.

He said there may be an opportunity to open that building’s parking lot up to patrons of Mile One Centre, or other downtown businesses, after hours. But Galgay said that would be up to the company.

Organizations: Downtown Development Commission, Woolworths, Bell CBC Fortis Properties

Geographic location: Duckworth Street

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Recent comments

  • Esron
    August 22, 2011 - 09:46

    Instead of dreading development [Looking at you BR], why not impose a fee for private vehicles entering the downtown, that way it would reduce traffic, need for parking, and fund transit downtown, and elsewhere in the city. Maybe even free transit Downtown...

  • Say what
    August 22, 2011 - 08:01

    Ok.. Let's stop for a second.. the private companies have already designed and are starting construction of these buildings ( or soon will be) ..? WHY does the city need to be involved? Private sector is smart enough to know they can rent their other spaces..And will do it to ensure maximized profit.. The city decided it should look like it's doing something, so is now going to negotiate with them.. for what? the ability to give tax dollars to private sector to ensure the spaces have city parking meters? Are you kidding me! The cities role in private parking facilties should be as follows... New building will need on average 200 spaces.. Great you can have approval on the building IF you build 300 spaces.. END OF RELATIONSHIP. If the city wants to still waste money maybe we can let them have a "watchdog" on city parking rates in a couple years for one of their buddies. Don't let city hall get sound bites and waste ink for things they shouldn't have their hands in..

  • John Smith
    August 22, 2011 - 06:57

    The lack of parking downtown is a horrendous problem.You can easily spend 10-15 minutes driving around some days/evenings looking for a place to stick your car. The city likes to spend money developing the downtown core but they fail miserably when it comes to providing sufficient parking. Now with the Iced Cappucinos coming to town this fall,the problem will only get worse.

  • BR
    August 22, 2011 - 06:48

    I have a solution for parking ... no more 12-story office buildings. Everybody dreads the parking downtown and council is only making it worse by approving more office space. Spread the office buildings out over the city ... and they don't have to be 12 stories.