Downtown Kelowna parking plan may bump into 'peak car' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna News

Downtown Kelowna parking plan may bump into 'peak car'

Kelowna's downtown parking plan will attempt try to increase parking availability in the downtown core.

KELOWNA - How to maximize parking in downtown Kelowna is the question and the downtown parking master plan, approved for further development by council this week, should soon give the city some answers.

Parking manager Dave Duncan and his staff will look at a number of ways to increase parking availability in the city’s most congested area but what the master plan won’t include anytime soon is another parkade.

“I don’t know if we will ever need another parkade,” Duncan says. “I know we don’t have one on the books, other than to buy some land, but nothing before 2030."

While Kelowna just completed two parkade projects in the last year, which Duncan says gives the city some breathing room, it’s also true the city may soon reach 'peak car.'

Changing demographics and emerging technology may mean Kelowna is more likely to repurpose or dismantle an existing parkade before building a new one.

“It’s happening already. My own son takes the bus, he doesn’t have much desire to drive,” Duncan says. “Myself, I was standing in line to get my license the day I turned 16.”

Beyond changing driving habits, the emergence of smaller electric and autonomous vehicles — depending on how fast they are accepted and adopted — could really change the parking picture and make the need for more parking infrastructure redundant.

“There’s talk of a vehicle that can drop you off and drive itself home but that would double the traffic and I’m not an expert but I don’t see how it’s more convenient,” Duncan speculates. “But if it became more of a service, kind of like a giant fleet of cabs, where rather than you going out and buying a car, where a company owns them and you just call one up when you need one, then who knows?”

If that scenario unfolds, Duncans says, the city would likely have to retrofit the existing parkades for electric vehicle charging but would be able to get more vehicles in them (and more along city streets).

Built the way they are, Duncan says many parkades are ill-suited for retrofitting or renovation because of their continuously angled floors and low ceilings, making them better candidates for demolition if they are no longer used.

In the meantime, neither the expanded Library parkade and newly built Memorial parkade are operating at capacity, something Duncan attributes to a lack of awareness and a little bit of attitude

“It’s on us to do a better job of letting people know where to park,” he says. “It’s on us to show them where parking is available.”

The downtown parking master plan will be back before Kelowna city council sometime next year after more public consultation and refinement

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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