Ridding the books of an antiquated bylaw provision marks a big step forward in the city, says Trail Mayor Mike Martin.
Martin was speaking about council’s resolve to change a 2002 zoning bylaw that costs downtown property redevelopers $3,000 per stall for off-street parking when respective parking spaces aren’t available on the lot itself.
The fee in lieu of each parking space along Rossland Avenue, is $1,500.
“The current off-street parking bylaw is an impediment to encouraging revitalization of the downtown area through renovations or redevelopment,” Martin told the Trail Times. “Council does have and has used the option of providing a variance in most circumstances but this remained another hurdle and a distraction for any redevelopment to take place, and we want to support any investment in the downtown, in any way possible.”
A recent example is the renovations currently underway at 1277 Cedar Ave.
The property owner presented his re-design plans during Feb. 22 council, which include combining two of the six commercial units for use as a martial arts instruction centre.
The city’s zoning bylaw requires 12 off-street parking spaces be provided on the property in connection with the change of use, however those spaces cannot be accommodated on the property. That means, the owner would have to pay $36,000 to the city, a sum of $3,000 per parking spot in lieu of each of the off-street parking spaces required.
The fees were an obvious hindrance to re-development, so the business asked for the issuance of a Development Variance Permit to waive the fees.
Council agreed to dismiss the entire amount and directed city staff to investigate potential amendments to the zoning bylaw.
Trail officials voted for change during Monday night council.
First, the panel considered potential impacts change in use renovations could present, such as converting retail into office space or commercial space into residential – thus creating the need for longer-term parking.
Those future scenarios were weighed against the current bylaw, which is considered a detriment to new development.
In the end, council agreed to waive fees for off-street parking requirements in the downtown (including Rossland Avenue) when renovation or re-development is proposed to an existing commercial or residential building.
The revision is subject to a public hearing before enactment.
“I was delighted to see the support of council in providing staff direction to prepare the necessary amendments to the bylaw,” Martin said. “This, along with the tax incentive bylaw, is another step forward in encouraging private investment in the downtown area.”
The original zoning bylaw came into play in 1982. Since regulations were revised 14 years ago, seven businesses have applied for a development variance to have off-street parking fees waived, says Trail Corporate Officer Michelle McIsaac.
“Dr. Lewchuk’s development at 1247 Bay Ave., in my opinion, exemplifies what the city hopes to achieve as part of the downtown’s revitalization,” she explained.
“In that situation, council agreed to waive the off-street parking fees ($30,000) associated with the redevelopment,” she added.
“Significant improvements were made to that building to convert it from the former dry cleaning shop to the dental clinic.”
Notably, council opted to maintain off-street parking requirements for new development, meaning construction of a building on an existing vacant lot, whether it be commercial or residential.
Past fees, about $19,000, collected through the zoning bylaw have been deposited into the Parking Facilities Reserve Fund for future parking-related projects.