Mayor Danny Breen says members of the City of St. John’s council are pursuing a change in regulation to allow sitting councils to waive parking requirements for new developments in the downtown.
“It will encourage development in St. John’s,” Breen told The Telegram, when asked about the move.
He raised the change during a leader’s panel session at the St. John’s Board of Trade’s “Outlook ‘19” event, at the Delta Hotel and Conference Centre on Wednesday. After the session, he said a related notice of motion can be expected Monday, at the next city council meeting.
“Right now there’s requirements that council has no discretion on. So whatever type of building you have has a requirement for parking, and if you can’t meet the requirement you have to pay cash in lieu. So if you’re short, say, 100 spaces and it’s $20,000 on a space, that’s a $2 million cost on your build,” he said.
The parking demands can already be waived by the council when outside of the downtown, he said. Regulations specific to the downtown are different.
Payments in lieu of meeting the requirements are a one-time charge, and still require general approval for the project from the city council.
Breen said he doesn’t believe the requirements for downtown are really there in all cases. He used Mile One as an example. “If you were to build another performance centre down there, because of parking — the way it’s required at night and (given) there’s garages to handle it — you really wouldn’t need that (parking space requirement),” he said. “So what this does, is it gives council discretion to say ‘OK, in this type of development, we’re able to not require that parking.’”
The shift was already under consideration for entirely new development regulations yet to be implemented, but Breen said council doesn’t want to be in a position now where a proposal comes forward that they can’t address in the way they’d like.
In addition to mentions of downtown parking and development, he spoke to the cost associated with federal wastewater demands, snowclearing and a handful of other topics currently on the radar of the city council, during the board of trade panel session. He was joined on that panel by provincial Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady and, by teleconference, MP Nick Whalen.