As construction on the Royal Bay and Royal Beach lands continues in Colwood, new parking standards are being examined by the City and residents aren’t happy about them.
At the most recent council meeting on April 27, Colwood council supported revised off-street parking standards that are specific to the Commons in Royal Bay and the Landing at Royal Beach. Council also asked staff to bring back a report outlining how the City might explore ways to implement on-street pay parking as well, something that does not yet exist in Colwood.
The off-street standards supported by council propose more spaces than what was recommended by developers but fewer spaces than what is currently required in Colwood’s Land Use Bylaw.
For residential properties, the required number of parking spaces is calculated based on the number of bedrooms and spaces for visitors. For retail, grocery and office parking, standards are calculated based on floor area.
The proposed standards require 0.8 spaces per bachelor unit, one space per one-bedroom unit, 1.3 spaces per two-bedroom and 1.5 spaces for three-bedroom units and larger. There is an average of 0.15 visitor parking spaces per unit.
According to the City of Colwood, the recommendations are based on studies that compared parking standards in Colwood with other municipalities of a similar size and make-up.
John English, one of the directors of the Royal Bay Homeowners Association, said members of the association “continue to be dumbfounded and confused” by decisions the City is making surrounding these developments.
“Reducing standards for minimum parking requirements is a major concern to people here because they have been making submissions to the City and staff complaining about parking problems in their community,” English said. “Reducing parking would enable developers to put in more residential units than planned.”
English said there is a worry that if the area is filled up with high-density housing, there won’t be opportunities for businesses along the seashore, as laid out in Colwood’s Official Community Plan. He also said that residents will still need places to park, turning them to on-street parking or parking on lawns instead.
At the council meeting, Coun. Cynthia Day noted that on-street parking would have to be managed if there isn’t enough for residents and retail users.
“The report did not consider costs associated with on-street parking,” Day said, referring to the parking standards report prepared by City staff.
Another cause for concern is that on-street parking in the area is already being used by students at Royal Bay Secondary School.
Lori McKenzie lives across from the school and said she has voiced her parking frustrations with the City multiple times but has not seen any changes. She said she struggles to find parking in the neighbourhood when school is in session and said her neighbours moved shortly after purchasing a home in the area because of parking issues.
“If the public is coming and saying ‘hey, take a look at this,’ then why is council saying ‘hey, let’s vote it through?’” McKenzie said.
Pay-parking also concerns McKenzie, as she said she is worried people will park on neighbourhood streets and walk to where they need to go to avoid paying.
The revised parking standards still have to go through a public hearing and bylaw amendments before they come into effect.
A City of Colwood spokesperson said council will not comment on the issue at this time because it still needs to go through a public hearing.
At the meeting, Coun. Gordie Logan said he thinks council is viewing the parking standards with a car-centric lens.
“[We’re] not thinking about goals from the Official Community Plan which is to maximize other modes of transportation to our commercial hubs,” Logan said. “A little bit of parking pressure dictates a change in behaviour.”