The City of St. John’s council voted Monday evening to allow sitting councils authority to waive parking requirements for new developments in downtown St. John’s.
This change brings the downtown regulation in line with the rest of the city.
Prior to this change, council had no discretion – it was bound by regulations that assigned a minimum requirement for parking for new developments downtown. Developers who could not meet the minimum parking requirement had to pay cash in lieu.
Mayor Danny Breen previously told The Telegram that if a developer couldn’t meet the requirement, the developer would have to pay a certain amount for each parking space they were short.
“So if you’re short, say, 100 spaces and it’s $20,000 on a space, that’s a $2-million cost on your build,” he said.
Coun. Maggie Burton, lead for development, said the change comes at a time when economic development downtown “is more precarious than usual.”
She said the previous parking requirements, with the cash in lieu of spaces program, could be “very expensive and prohibitive to any new development.”
“I think that the downtown can handle more developments that don’t necessarily require parking right next to where the development is going to occur.” — Coun. Maggie Burton
Burton said the downtown already has plenty of parking garages that should be more widely used.
“I think that the downtown can handle more developments that don’t necessarily require parking right next to where the development is going to occur.”
The change in regulation, giving council the ability to waive parking requirements, is now in effect. Any development application will now go through discretionary power of council.
“I’m sure that if an applicant requested parking relief we would consider it,” said Burton.
The councillor also brought forward a motion for city staff to study the city’s current parking minimums and identify any opportunities to reduce or eliminate parking minimums in certain areas of the city, or for certain types of development.
“Last year council changed the requirements for how much parking is required at a personal care home, for example, because we know that certain demographics don’t need as much parking as others.”
Staff is expected to bring forward a report of recommendations to council in one year’s time, no later than February 2020.