The City of Duncan will hire a consultant to conduct a parking capacity study for its downtown core.
Council decided at its meeting on Oct. 7 to issue a Request for Proposal for the study, which will use information that will be collected from parking data collection in the months of December, May and possibly July.
The chosen consultant will also conduct a survey of residents of the city’s market area on the current frequency of their downtown visits, and whether they are influenced by the perception of downtown parking, environmental impact, and support for local businesses.
The city’s market area has been previously quantified as including areas of Cowichan Bay, Eagle Heights, Cowichan Tribes and areas of North Cowichan up to Chemainus, and has a total population of approximately 43,000 people.
Tom Duncan, chairman of the city’s parking advisory committee, said at the council meeting on Oct. 7 that the committee felt it wouldn’t take the chosen consultants who are to be chosen to complete the study much more work to conduct the survey, and the information it gathers will be important in future decisions.
In a staff report, Duncan CAO Peter de Verteuil said the intent of the survey is to establish whether increasing the downtown parking capacity will influence local residents’ shopping patterns.
“Secondary goals of the survey include asking questions to gauge residents’ motivation levels to shop locally due to climate change or due to a desire to support local businesses,” he said
“The (city’s parking advisory) committee felt the survey would add value from both a potential quantification of parking demand, but also help inform future marketing efforts in the local area.”
Verteuil said that until proposals from then RFP are received, the extent of the financial implications of the study will be unknown.
“However, the addition of a statistically valid survey would likely add $10,000 to the cost of the study, based on the typical costs for the city’s biennial citizens’ satisfaction survey,” he said.
The parking study comes at the same time council decided to switch to two-hour free parking on Station, Kenneth and Craig streets, up from the 90-minute parking policy on those streets that was part of a summer pilot program.
In June, the city switched from free three-hour parking on those streets to 90 minutes as part of the pilot program that was geared to increase traffic turnover downtown to have more spaces available for drivers that only need to stop downtown for lunch or a short number of errands.