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Parking relief passed by St. John's city council

St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen said implementing parking relief for downtown “creates the same conditions across the city.”
St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen said implementing parking relief for downtown “creates the same conditions across the city.” - Juanita Mercer

JAG Hotel expansion, concert hall among first to apply for relief

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

St. John’s city council has voted to restore parking relief in the downtown in a move meant to encourage development.

At its Feb. 18 meeting, council voted to put the process in motion. With Monday’s vote, council’s decision will now head to the province for registration and printing in the N.L. Gazette, bringing it into legal effect.

It means council can reduce or waive off-street parking requirements for proposed businesses downtown. Previously, developers who couldn’t provide the minimum amount of off-street parking were required to pay cash in lieu of each space they were short.

However, with this change developers will still need to demonstrate to council that the city’s standards are excessive for the proposal at hand.

Council will look at requests for parking relief on a case-by-case basis.

The original decision to charge developers cash in lieu of parking spaces was implemented in 2013 because it was believed a lack of parking was affecting downtown businesses.

Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary said the original move was supposed to help downtown businesses, but it actually did the opposite.

She called council’s decision Monday evening a “positive step forward.”

The Downtown St. John’s Business Improvement Area association wrote a letter of support for the amendment to downtown parking relief.

The association wrote that there are several downtown parking facilities operating at a low capacity, indicating the availability and access to many parking options.

The association went on to write that the amendment will “provide an opportunity for the city and developers to work together to encourage responsible development and growth in the downtown.”

Meanwhile, Steele Hotels has already applied for parking relief for its JAG hotel expansion and concert hall.

Breen said that’s a good example of where parking relief might make sense.

“For a performance theatre of 1,500 seats under our current regulations, we would have to provide a significant amount of parking for that. That would inhibit development because those people that are attending those (concerts) are coming in the evening, much the same as we don’t have parking for Mile One and we don’t have parking for the Convention Centre. So, that’s the whole idea – council needs to be able to look at developments individually, and provide relief where we need to.”

Twitter: @juanitamercer_

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