New Brunswick

Downtown shops say Moncton plan to eliminate parking lot a 'big blow'

A plan by the City of Moncton to get rid of a downtown metered parking at Main and Lewis streets has at least one business considering moving.

'When the major concern for downtown is parking, why would you take a parking lot away?'

Karee Richard, who works at Mystic Books and Brews on Main Street, believes the loss of the parking lot at the corner of Main and Lewis Streets will hurt businesses in the downtown. (Radio-Canada)

A plan by the City of Moncton to get rid of a metered parking lot at Main and Lewis streets in downtown Moncton has at least one downtown business considering moving.

"We've been here for 32 years and the reason why we have such a successful business is because of that parking lot," said Steve Clerke, who co-owns Gifts Galore with his wife.

"It's not only us — it's the entire block here. To lose that parking lot is a huge blow not only for east Main Street. It's a huge blow for downtown Moncton as well."

Steve Clerke has co-owned Gifts Galore on Main Street for 32 years and credits the little parking lot at the corner for much of his continued success. (Radio-Canada)
City of Moncton spokesperson Isabelle LeBlanc said the lot will disappear because of a plan that's been in the works since 2011 — the widening of Lewis Street and its realignment with Assomption Boulevard. 

Construction is scheduled to begin on May 29 if it receives final approval from Moncton council at its May 15 meeting.

The reason that East Main Street is so successful and you do not see any empty spots on East Main Street — it's because of this parking lot. If you want to attract people to your downtown you have to have a visible parking lot.- Steve Clerke, Gifts Galore

​LeBlanc said while 22 parking spaces will be lost as a result, in the long run more than 22 spaces will be gained when Lewis Street and eventually Queen Street are expanded.

But Clerke is asking council to take another look at the project and find an alternative that would keep the downtown's only visible parking lot.

"Really, look at the economic loss that we will have from losing this parking lot," he said.

"When people are driving up and down Main Street and looking for a place to park in the handful of parking spaces that are on the sides of the streets — to take that parking lot away would be a major, major loss for the downtown."

Moving a possibility

Clerke said if the parking lot is eliminated, he and his wife will "have to consider all options," which include moving.

"All of the people down here are very, very concerned, but you have to go where you can accommodate your customers," he said.

"Even to consider [moving] is very sad."

The owners of Gifts Galore, a longtime anchor store in downtown Moncton, say they will consider moving if the parking lot Main and Lewis Streets is eliminated. City council makes a final decision May 15.
Sarah Keating, the owner of Mystic Moons Books and Brews on Main Street, shares Clerks's worries.

She plans to attend the May 15 council meeting to voice her concerns about the street project and loss of the parking lot.

"We don't want to be in the way of progress ... however, logically it doesn't make sense to get rid of a parking lot that is making the city a lot of money and is being used on a regular basis by a number of people throughout the day and evening," Keating said.

Clerke is hopeful council will consider the concerns of business before moving ahead with the project.

"The reason that East Main Street is so successful and you do not see any empty spots on East Main Street, it's because of this parking lot. If you want to attract people to your downtown you have to have a visible parking lot.

"When the major concern for downtown is parking, why would you take a parking lot away? It's just common sense but for some reason the city doesn't recognize this."

with files from Radio-Canada and Jonna Brewer

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