Interior Health, City of Kelowna appear headed for a parking showdown | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interior Health, City of Kelowna appear headed for a parking showdown

March 04, 2021 - 6:30 PM

Interior Health has backed away from plans for a staff parkade next to Kelowna General Hospital but that's not sitting well with Kelowna city councillor Luke Stack.

Instead, Interior Health is looking at parking hundreds of cars on surface parking lots “with close adjacency” to the hospital campus, according to a report that went to the regional hospital board last week.

“I’m hoping we’re not going to see a sea of asphalt with parking as you mow down houses in the neighbourhood,” Stack said to Interior Health officials at the meeting.

Interior Health confirmed March 4 that it bought a 1.25 acre property at 2169 Pandosy St., just north of the Dr. Walter Anderson building “for future projects.”

Since it’s vacant, no houses will have to be mowed down but, if it is used for parking, it will only provide a fraction of the space needed for staff and could cost as much per stall as a parkade.

This is a street-level view of the new property.
This is a street-level view of the new property.
Image Credit: Google Maps

In January 2019, the City of Kelowna adopted a transportation and land use plan for the area around Kelowna General Hospital.

It said there was an immediate need for 300 to 500 staff parking stalls. The city’s preference was for a parkade to be built on the hospital campus but also said land on Speer Street, which runs just behind the Dr. Walter Anderson building across the street from the hospital, could also be used.

Last year, the regional hospital board contributed $4.6 million of taxpayers’ money towards the proposed $20 million parkade.

But, at last week’s meeting, the hospital board was told by Dan Goughnour, corporate director of business operations for Interior Health, the on-campus site was unsuitable.

Their plan was to build the parkade between the existing public and staff parkades on the south side of the hospital but it contains two large oxygen tanks.

“We would have to relocate that and all the infrastructure that’s associated with it, which is quite a major thing to do with the hospital and contingency plans to make sure we have the regular flow of oxygen into the site,” Goughnour told the board.

There’s also a major “electrical vault” underground in that location.

That’s what sparked Stack’s comments.

“When I hear that you’re looking at picking up property nearby, that raises a flag for me because it has a big impact on very sensitive neighbourhoods,” Stack said. “It sounds like a change in direction and not consistent with the campus planning we were presented with some years ago. If Interior Health is changing that, I think it’s going to behoove them to bring that forward to both the regional (hospital) district and the City of Kelowna.”

The alternate location on Speer Street has been turned into a 63-stall surface parking lot. About 50 of those stalls simply replace those lost when JoeAnna’s House was built to provide accommodation for patients’ families.

The 63-stall Speer Street lot is behind the Dr. Walter Anderson building and mostly makes up for parking spots lost when JoeAnna's House was built.
The 63-stall Speer Street lot is behind the Dr. Walter Anderson building and mostly makes up for parking spots lost when JoeAnna's House was built.

Depending on the scale of the change in parking, the current plan may have to be rewritten, including public consultation, James Moore, the city’s long range planner who worked on the KGH plan, told iNFOnews.ca

“If there is going to be a significant shift in policy on how they are going to address their parking challenges, that has an implication for our broader community plan, our neighbourhood plan, our zoning, and for residents,” he said. “I think there is some justification for saying, if they’re shifting tactics substantially, that warrants some discussion both with the city and with the community that lives in that neighbourhood.”

The question Interior Health has not answered, despite repeated efforts by iNFOnews.ca, is just how many parking stalls it plans to build, or when.

“We are always working towards plans to improve parking options for patients, visitors and staff,” was the main statement in Interior Health’s emailed answer to iNFOnews.ca

Although the 2019 plan said 300 to 500 staff parking stalls were needed, Interior Health said in January it needed 800 more daytime parking spaces.

Workers have been told that it can take up to nine years to get one of those coveted passes.

READ MORE: New nurses face up to nine-year wait to get parking spots at Interior hospitals

Whatever the actual number of stalls needed, the new property doesn’t even come close to filling that need.

The recently built Boyce Gyro Beach parking lot, which is a similar size to the Pandosy Street property, has 125 parking stalls, Dave Duncan, the city’s parking services manager told iNFOnews.ca.

While Gyro is slightly smaller, some of the landscaping required for parking lots of that size is within the park so 125 is a reasonable estimate for the Pandosy Street location, he said.

The Chapman Parkade in downtown Kelowna, is on a slightly smaller piece of land and has 479 parking stalls in five storeys.

That means, from two to six similar sized parcels of land would be needed for staff parking, eating up as much as 7.5 acres requiring IH to "mow down" many more houses if it continues to insist and pursue surface parking.

That’s what happened in order to accommodate about 85 permanent parking stalls across Royal Avenue from the hospital’s Emergency entrance. Those were within the Abbott Street heritage conservation area.

This is a landscaped parking lot across Royal Avenue from the emergency ward. Old houses within the Abbott Street heritage district were mowed down to make room for about 85 parking spots.
This is a landscaped parking lot across Royal Avenue from the emergency ward. Old houses within the Abbott Street heritage district were mowed down to make room for about 85 parking spots.

And, while it may seem cheaper to build surface parking lots, that’s not necessarily the case.

“When you do surface parking, the land is usually the biggest expense,” Duncan said.

The Pandosy Street parcel had an assessed value of $3.6 million last July. Land prices in Kelowna have increased dramatically since then and that parcel was listed for sale at $9.9 million.

If Interior Health was able to buy the land at its assessed value and there is room for 125 parking stalls, that works out to $28,800 per stall.

Duncan didn’t have the exact figures at hand for the Gyro Beach lot but thinks it cost $11,000 to $12,000 per stall to build to city standards, which includes things like landscaping and lighting.

That means surface parking could cost around $40,000 per stall when land prices are factored in. That doesn’t include the cost of demolition if there are houses on the land or other site preparation costs.

By comparison, the cost of building a parkade is estimated at $36,000 to $40,000 per stall, not including the cost of land, Duncan said.

It would be cheaper to build temporary parking lots with crushed rock or some other material but the city doesn’t want such sites to become permanent.

Temporary parking lots could look something like this one on Speer Street.
Temporary parking lots could look something like this one on Speer Street.

At some point, a staff parkade will need to be built, Terry Barton, the city’s urban planning manager said.

“At a certain point in time, they’re not going to have the funding to buy all that land, nor the political will, so they’re going to have to move to the structured parkade,” Barton said. “It’s just a matter of when they do that and how they secure that money.”

The red dot in the top right corner shows the location of the new land bought by Interior Health next to Kelowna General Hospital. Below that is the Dr. Walter Anderson building. Below that and to the right of the alleyway is where the new Speer Street staff parking lot now sits. Towards the bottom left is the space between the two existing parkades that Interior Health rejected as a site for a new staff parkade.
The red dot in the top right corner shows the location of the new land bought by Interior Health next to Kelowna General Hospital. Below that is the Dr. Walter Anderson building. Below that and to the right of the alleyway is where the new Speer Street staff parking lot now sits. Towards the bottom left is the space between the two existing parkades that Interior Health rejected as a site for a new staff parkade.
Image Credit: Apple Maps

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