Councillor takes aim at surface parking lots

Allard wants council to have more say in how land used


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A Winnipeg councillor is calling for the city to find ways to prevent street-level parking lots from being set up after commercial and industrial buildings get torn down.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/01/2021 (790 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Winnipeg councillor is calling for the city to find ways to prevent street-level parking lots from being set up after commercial and industrial buildings get torn down.

“I’m looking at ways to essentially curb this and ensure we end up with at least a say, as a council, on how much of our urban form is surface parking lots, as opposed to buildings,” said St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard. “Buildings… generate more property values and lead to a more sustainable city than a city full of surface parking lots, which I think Winnipeg has a lot of.”

Since commercial and industrial demolitions that lack new building permits aren’t subject to a public hearing process, despite the fact similar applications for residential homes require such as hearing, Allard said the city should try to increase oversight.

If Allard’s motion is approved by council’s property and development committee, a public service report will check out how other cities address the issue.

The councillor said he was inspired to take action after a commercial building at 384 Tache Ave. was torn down in 2018 and replaced with a surface parking lot. Allard said his new motion isn’t meant to criticize the owners of that particular lot, but aims to see council get more control over future property changes.

“It just brought forward the policy issue that commercial buildings can go down, industrial buildings can go down and there’s no public hearing. (With) residential, you do have that public hearing and, in some cases, the area councillor and the community committee can turn them down and the end result is you have a building and not a surface parking lot,” said Allard.

While some Winnipeg drivers might find them convenient, Allard said he believes surface parking lots aren’t the best use of space, since they prevent density and impede the city’s climate change goals.

“The more surface parking lots there are, the more Winnipeggers will be choosing the single-passenger vehicle trip (to reach their destinations),” said Allard.

Winnipegger Stephane Dorge said he believes that while some surface parking lots may be required, the city should address an “excessive” amount of them in and around downtown.

“I definitely think there’s a better use of land than surface parking… To me, it creates dead zones instead of having neighbourhood activity or resources or storefronts that residents could access,” said Dorge.

The city has attempted to reduce the number of downtown surface parking lots for several years. As of 2018, 150 surface parking lots took up about 20 per cent of Winnipeg’s downtown real estate.

A development permit is required to legally set up a surface parking lot in Winnipeg and land owners who skip that step can face an enforcement process, the city noted in an emailed statement.

If the property and development committee approves Allard’s motion next month, the report would be expected in four months.

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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