Local architect and developer Wayne Guy says the city needs to change its parking requirements to prevent the erosion of downtown Yellowknife.
“It is my view that downtown is dying,” Guy says, pointing to an aerial rendering of the downtown core pockmarked with empty spaces during a presentation to Mayor and council Monday.
Due to current parking regulations for developments, Guy says, the city is facing a situation where the area is rife with vacant lots and parking, lower density and both businesses and residents moving out of downtown. “As old buildings are torn down, the economics of rebuilding aren’t there. Because with your development and higher densification, you’re in a situation where you have to then tear down more buildings to accommodate the parking for new developments. It’s sort of a snowball effect and as a net, sort of dire consequence,” he says. “We’re beginning to get huge erosions now and this will only continue under current parking regulations.”
Guy plans to build a 12-unit microcondo development on 54th Street he is pitching as a way for people to enter the housing market, specifically Yellowknife’s snowbirds and millennials. His firm Guy Architects submitted a development application to the city early June and want to start construction this summer. The 320 square foot units could sell for as low as $200,000. The building would have two parking spots – one visitor stall and another space with an electric vehicle and charging station. The electric vehicle would be operated as a car share by the members of the condo corporation.
Guy asked Mayor and council to first approve the condo development and then change the parking ratios in the city’s zoning bylaw to make development downtown more appealing.
Espousing the principles of new urbanism, Guy says the city needs to bring people downtown by encouraging densification and factor in transportation options such as car shares and public transit into parking requirements for downtown zoning. Using the car share company Communauto as an example, Guy says a carshare can service 30 people’s transportation needs.
Several councillors expressed support of the micro-condo development, with Coun. Steve Payne calling it ‘genius.’ To allow the microcondos to go ahead, Guy says he will make both parking spaces car shares. This would satisfy the requirement of one car share per eight residences downtown. Mayor and council have directed administration to add the wording ‘multi-attached dwelling’, a building with three or more dwellings with separate entrances, to the car share provisions in the zoning bylaw. This change could come forward to council July 22nd and would allow Guy’s development to meet parking regulations.