Parking spots in downtown Hamilton are going to become increasingly scarce and sought after, according to a new report.
The report, conducted by the MMM Group for the city's planning and economic development department, suggests that new commercial and residential construction in the downtown core over the past decade has led to a potential shortage of parking in the future, and a parking garage with 500 spaces would help alleviate those parking pressures.
“There's no urgent need right now. We're just planning for the future and the potential shortage we'll face,” said Ted Arnold, the city's manager of parking operations.
Because of the estimated $20 to $23 million price tag attached to the construction of a parking garage, the report suggests that the city seek out a partner in the private sector to help build the garage.
“No one in the private sector has come to us yet, but we're hoping that this report will generate interest among potential partners,” said Arnold.
There are currently 13,109 spaces available for public parking in the area bordered by Cannon Street to the north, Queen Street to the west, Wellington Street to the east and Hunter Street to the south.
Of those spaces, 2,999 are in municipal garages/lots, 5,024 are in privately owned public garages/lots, 3,948 are in privately owned private garages/lots and 1,138 are on-street spaces.
The report found that the peak time for parking in Hamilton is 11 a.m., when 68 per cent of spaces are utilized. And downtown intersections at King and Bay Streets and King William and John Streets were singled out as particularly 'high demand parking areas."
Parking in those two areas regularly exceeds 85 per cent, and the report suggests that the garage should be built near one of those locations.
'Parking contributes nothing to the community.' - Dave Kuruc, Mixed Media
Arnold said that expanded parking would contribute to the revitalization of downtown Hamilton, though some local business owners are skeptical.
“Parking contributes nothing to the community…and I'm worried that's going to open up demolition in the core. If you're going to take out a surface parking lots to accommodate a new parking structure, that's the only way I would support more parking in the core,” said Dave Kuruc, owner of Mixed Media on James Street North.
Arnold, however, emphasized that the city “wouldn't consider surface parking,” and that an above- or below-ground parking structure would benefit the entire community.
“To have a vibrant area, you need parking. Not 100 per cent of the people headed to the core will walk, or take a bus or ride a bike.”