Businesses bristle at idea of removing 3rd Avenue parking spots to make way for BRT

The City of Saskatoon says the loss of any spaces could be made up for by converting a nearby area to new parking. No final design for the BRT line has been chosen yet.

City of Saskatoon says loss of any spaces could be made up for by converting nearby area

Don Richardson, a store owner on Third Avenue, says taking out parking spots would hurt his business's bottom line. He relies on deliveries. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Some downtown business owners on Third Avenue are worried about a proposal that would see some parking spots on the street eliminated to make way for Saskatoon's bus rapid transit (BRT) system.

The city has chosen Third Avenue as a core artery of its proposed $120-million BRT system but is still finalizing exactly how the route would look on the street.

One option publicly displayed earlier this year would see all of the street's current 152 parking spots removed.

"I think because transit has operated down Third Avenue for years, nobody could assume or envision what BRT could look like on this street or any other street until plans were shown in February. That's when things took off," said Brent Penner, the executive director of the downtown business improvement district.

One option floated by the city shows no parking spots in a Third Avenue reconfigured for the bus rapid transit system. (City of Saskatoon)

"Virtually everyone I've spoken to" is against the idea, added Penner.

'Bread and butter is on the line' 

Don Richardson, the owner of Creative Compliments, a flower shop near the corner of 22nd Street and Third Avenue, says he needs parking spots for his deliveries, which account for up to 30 per cent of his business.

He also says restaurants on the street that rely on SkipThe need the spots too.

There are 154 parking spots on Third Avenue, according to the downtown business development district. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

"Our bread and butter is on the line," Richardson said Wednesday in front of his business, which has been on Third Avenue for 15 years. 

Richardson said he'd have to move his business if the plan moves ahead.

'Recognize that there's a lot at stake'

The city has yet to finalize its plans. It was meeting with businesses on Wednesday to discuss options.

Chris Shulz, the special projects manager for the city's growth plan, said he felt some people came out of the noon-hour meeting feeling less concerned due to more information being shared there.

For example, the city is looking at converting a nearby bus village to new parking to offset the loss of parking spots from Third Avenue. 

"The meetings are important park of our overall stakeholder engagement," said Shulz. "We certainly recognize that there's a lot at stake for many of these businesses and their interests are very important and we don't take that lightly at all."

The city hopes to finalize the street configuration for the BRT system this summer. 

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

All-platform journalist for CBC Saskatoon

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