Black Diamond council has adopted a new policy that ensures adequate parking for future non-residential development.
Town planner Rod Ross brought the policy to council at its May 6 meeting, suggesting cash be paid when developers are unable to provide the required parking as established by the land use bylaw. Council adopted the policy with a unanimous vote.
“This policy would allow them to pay cash instead of providing the physical space and then that cash would be used by the town to build public parking stalls to build improvements to our pedestrian infrastructure,” Ross told council. “The rationale for this policy is that cash in lieu parking would allow for redevelopment and densification where parking can’t be easily provided.”
Ross said the policy offers developers with another option, providing some flexibility in situations where parking requirements cannot be met on site. Cash in lieu will apply primarily in the central and business districts.
“In our downtown we have a number of skinny lots,” he said. “You can’t really provide more than three parking stalls on a 25-foot wide lot.”
Ross said the policy states developers must provide at least 30 per cent of the required parking spots on the site. Parking stalls the developer chooses not to build on site will cost $2,500 each, representing 20 per cent of the estimated $12,500 cost per stall when considering construction costs and the price of land at the current market rate, he said.
“The rationale behind it is the stalls the developers are paying for aren’t going to be solely for their use, they’re going to be available for anyone publicly,” he said. “In my view it’s fair that they pay only a portion of the cost of constructing it and 20 per cent is what’s being proposed.”
Ross said developers choosing the cash in lieu for parking option must pay the Town before the development permit is released. Funds collected through the policy will be placed in a dedicated reserve fund established for this purpose, he said.
Cash in lieu of parking will be considered by the Development Authority through the Development Permit Process in accordance with the land use bylaw.
“How many parking stalls are required is determined by the development officer and land use bylaw,” said Ross.
Funds collected through the policy will go toward parking and pedestrian improvements within the Town, providing a means of acquiring additional offsite parking where existing and proposed development is parking deficient, said Ross.
“This is the rationale for allowing sites to be used for pedestrian infrastructure,” he said. “It’s necessary to connect public parking spots with their destinations. If we build a parking lot somewhere people must be able to walk safely to the businesses they’re visiting.”
The cash in lieu policy does not apply to apartments built above stores, Ross said, as they’re considered a residence and, therefore, a parking stall must be provided on site.
Coun. Ted Bain expressed concern that the policy could tempt a developer to build a larger building rather than provide adequate parking on the site, and just pay for the parking instead.
“There isn’t really a hard and fast rule to make these determinations,” Bain said.
Ross replied that if a developer can only provide two parking stalls on a 25-foot wide parcel then he or she would be limited to a very small building.
“That is not conducive to intensification, which is something I would like to see – more efficient use of infrastructure,” he said.
Ross said if the Town experiences an uptake on the cash in lieu of parking option, with most or all developers preferring to pay cash over providing more than 30 per cent of parking stalls, the Town could increase the cost.
“In Banff developers pay 100 per cent of the cost of providing the stall, not 20 per cent,” he said. “We have to tailor the policy to reflect the situation, but if everyone wants to pay cash instead of providing the parking we may want to revisit it and make it higher.”