A piece of city land at the entrance to Old Town will remain a parking lot this summer, but some councillors are urging the city to take a creative, long-term look at what it could be used for in the future.
During a February 18th committee meeting, city administrator Sheila Bassi-Kellett spoke of Old Town’s ongoing parking problem, including people parking haphazardly and impeding resident and emergency access. A parking study for the area is on the city’s work plan for 2019, she added.
For the time being, a lot at School Draw Ave. and Franklin Ave. will remain a parking lot, before any decisions are made about what to do with it in the longer term.
Councillors Julian Morse and Robin Williams stressed their interest in seeing a creative solution at the lot, including affordable housing.
“I really do see this as a site that could have more value. Typically when you look at parking lot, that’s typically the lowest value use that you could put into a site,” Morse says. “Old Town is the location of some of our shack community which has been a great low-cost housing asset in the city for as long as the city has existed. So I would love to see some creative solutions thought up here.”
Consultation with the public about the lot was done in 2017. Administrator Sheila Bassi-Kellet says council was ‘nonplussed’ with the outcome of consultation, expressing the need for more meaningful development in line with the spirit of the area.
Konge, who was on council at the time, stressed he didn’t think the information from the consultation reflected what activities and life happened in this area of town. Mayor Rebecca Alty also opposed the plans as a councillor in 2017.
“It looked really pretty, but the plan actually reduced the number of parking spots but increased landscaping and stuff. So I wasn’t supportive of the plan,” she says.
For the time being, the lot will remain an unpaved parking lot for vehicles as well as boat trailers.
Council has directed the city to complete a review of the Lift Station #1, a sewage station used for pumping wastewater uphill, which is over 50 years old. The money for the review, $50,000, and $10,000 of basic maintenance on the site will come from $265,000 allocated to the project in the 2017 budget.
Once the review and parking study are complete, the question of what to do with the lot long term will come back before council.