Shaping the look of Downtown parking

Karen KesselDowntown Guelph

In late 2012, the City of Guelph undertook an initiative aimed at improving parking in and around the downtown core. The suggestion was that the development of a Parking Master Plan would alleviate some of the strain on commuters, employees and shoppers alike. By the city’s projections, the number of people working and living downtown will double from 8,000 to about 16,000 over the next 15 years.

With the increased demand for parking brought on by that growth, the city has the challenge of creating more parking spaces, while operating with a finite amount of space within the Central Business District. Of course, any successful plan to alleviate this demand would also call for a review of our public transit program as well.

For the time being, the city is focused on 4 main tasks: building new capacity, maintaining existing parking infrastructure, creating a supportive parking policy & planning for future need. Synergy between these four pillars will be critical to the success of the downtown moving forward.

September saw an array of open houses designed to engage the public and invite resident input into the designs and strategies to be seen in the future. Primarily, a division exists between two ideals- tax supported and user pay supported parking. Presently, the majority of downtown parking is user pay, but all street parking in the core is free. Our city has gone back and forth on the presence of- and effects of- free public parking (tax based), but for now, the mixed system between the streets & parkades operates with varying degrees of success depending on who you ask. Public input will be important to ensure our downtown works for us, the way we need it to, so be sure to make your voice heard.