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New parkade not seen as downtown remedy

By Mike Youds
July 15, 2016 10:31 A.M.

Businesses, along with the City and RIH, will be gauging how a parkade opening at the new Clinical Services Building affects the broader issue of downtown parking.

RIH opens the 350-stall parkade Monday, July 25, weeks ahead of the opening of the health-care complex next door.

While additional parking is sure to improve the hospital parking situation after years of complaints, its impact on the downtown as a whole is uncertain.

“We’re actually curious about what amount of effect it will have on parking downtown,” said Gay Pooler, general manger of Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association.

Additional parking in the downtown core — presumably at the former Daily News site as part of a mixed-use development — remains a high priority for the association, though. 

“That’s what it was purchased for, though it’s in limbo right now,” Pooler said, alluding to the City’s process for determining the future of the Seymour Street property. (Nine proposals, some from community groups, some from private developers, won’t be made public until council decides how to proceed with the property.)

Customer parking isn’t the main issue for city centre businesses. The lack of employee parking is considered a serious limitation, affecting the economic health of the city’s core. A number of companies that considered the downtown chose to locate elsewhere due to a lack of employee parking, Pooler noted.

On the health-care side of the equation, the new parking should help to alleviate some stress for out-patients and others upon arrival at RIH, often under already stressful circumstances.

The new parkade has been designated public parking and existing parking at the hospital will be allocated for employees only. 

There will be a 44 percent net increase in public parking at RIH, or an additional 127 public stalls, said Kris Kristjanson, health services director. Currently there are 213 public stalls. 

"That should help and will certainly cover some of the parking at the hospital," Kristjanson said. "I don't know if it's going to help with all of the parking at the hospital."

A lot of hospital employees use street parking in the surrounding neighbourhood, along with downtown parking lots, so additional onsite parking could free up additional street parking in the downtown area.

“Whether it solves every problem with parking in downtown Kamloops remains to be seen,” said Mayor Peter Milobar. “Obviously it’s going to help somewhat anytime you add 350 stalls, but I think it’s going to take some time to figure out the interplay.”

David Johnson says:
July 15, 2016 11:53am

Common sense suggests that the RIH parkade will satisfy employee, patient and family needs at the hospital itself, as well as service medical offices on Columbia, Nicola and the immediate area.
Its a pipe dream to think people are going to park there and walk to Seymour or Victoria. The real factor to how well it is used will be the cost. If its overpriced ... people wont use it ... period.


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