The City of Yellowknife is investigating whether it should build a new multi-storey parking lot to provide more spaces downtown while freeing up some land.
A study costing $75,000 was approved last year and is set to take place this summer and fall, though it may be pushed back because of the pandemic.
The study will look at how other municipalities build and operate their own multi-storey parking lots, the associated costs, and the feasibility of the City doing the same.
Alternatively, the City could strengthen existing incentives for private companies to take on the work. A tax incentive to encourage the building of big parking lots has existed since 2008 but, to date, nobody has taken it up.
“Currently, about 40 percent of downtown is taken up with horizontal parking,” said Greg Littlefair, the City’s director of planning and development, on Monday.
Littlefair said the City wants to investigate the practicalities of building a new parking structure offering more than 100 spaces.
The demand is there, he said – “the public does request access to parking quite a bit” – and switching a few existing parking lots for one larger lot would potentially provide a “better balance” downtown.
The study will assess “how and why other municipal governments build and maintain parking structures,” Littlefair said, including the cost to build them, the operating and maintenance costs, how long they last, and how a new multi-storey parking lot might impact downtown revitalization efforts
“We want to gather all that information and analyze a lot of the different factors, and then take that information to council to decide how best to move forward,” said Littlefair.
“Ownership [by the City] would be one of those options, whether the City funds it or provides incentives for a private developer.”
The study is preliminary, meaning so far there is no commitment to go ahead with any such project and no potential location has been identified.
Options for possible locations will form part of the eventual report once the study is complete.
Littlefair said Covid-19 had made the timeline for the study “a little bit tricky.”
“It was scheduled for summer to late fall. However, it is has to be tied in now with the Emerging Wisely strategy,” he said, referring to the NWT government’s pandemic recovery plan. “We’re hoping for this year but it could be difficult.”