A total 1,062 people shared their thoughts on downtown parking with city officials last year.
The city recently released the results of the parking survey it held in August 2018 as part of its efforts to refresh the Downtown Parking Plan, last updated in 2011.
The survey found that nearly all respondents – 99 per cent – make their way to the downtown area at least once a week.
Seventy per cent enter the neighbourhood at least five days a week.
They mainly go downtown for shopping, work, appointments or recreational events.
School, socializing, daycare and banking are among “other” reasons.
“The most popular way to travel into downtown Whitehorse is by private vehicle, either alone or with others,” it was noted.
The least popular ways are by taxi or bus.
In between are more active modes of transportation, including bicycling or walking.
Only five per cent of those who did the survey listed downtown parking conditions as very good, with 14 per cent stating they are good.
Meanwhile, 18 per cent listed parking conditions as very poor, with another 29 per cent grading the conditions as poor.
Taking the middle road in listing the conditions as fair were 34 per cent of respondents, while 29 per cent stated they are good.
The city asked respondents about how easy it is to find parking downtown.
“In general, parking was found to be easiest outside of business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.),” it was noted.
“Most people did not find it easy to park on Main Street during peak times; however, during off-peak times, people could usually find a spot directly on Main Street.
“Box stores and malls were commonly cited as somewhere easy and free to park at all times. 6th Avenue, 3rd Avenue, 5th Avenue and Front Street were the most mentioned streets to find available parking.
“Some felt as though there were no places or times that it was easy to park downtown. In contrast, some felt as though outside of business hours, everywhere was easy to park.”
A total of 58 per cent of respondents told the city there “is not nearly enough parking in the areas they want to park.”
Another 36 per cent stated there is the right amount of parking within “a reasonable walking distance.”
Four per cent stated there’s “more than enough parking available in the areas they want to park.”
The city also asked those surveyed to rate the efforts already made to address parking in the downtown area.
Those initiatives include improvements made for pedestrians, additional bicycle parking, improvements to transit, better designs for parking lots, adding accessible parking stalls, the development of a downtown parking map, and the creation of a residential parking permit program.
The greatest impact seemed to be in the improvements made for pedestrians.
Fourteen per cent rated them as having significant impact, while 39 per cent rated them as having some impact.
Another 37 per cent stated the improvements had minimal or no impact, and nine per cent stated they didn’t know whether there was any impact.
On the other end of the scale, 55 per cent said the development of a downtown parking map had minimal or no impact, with just five per cent stating it had significant impact.
Another 15 per cent rated it as having some effect, while 25 per cent didn’t know.
The other initiatives also saw high percentages rate the effort as having minimal or no impact.
Fifty-three per cent stated that conclusion that for the additional bicycle parking, with 51 per cent noting that for each the transit improvement and additional parking stalls downtown.
Forty-eight per cent stated there was minimal or no impact from the residential parking permit program, while 45 per cent said the same about improved parking lot design.
Among possible improvements in the future, the city stated the survey showed: “The most supported improvement ideas were improving snow clearing of pedestrian and cycle routes, creating long-term all-day parking, creating additional off-street parking, and coinless technology and app payment functionality for meters.
“The least supported ideas were parking stalls for shared vehicles and parking lots with shuttle services or shared bikes.”
Residents also put forth their own ideas, including:
• more bylaw enforcement around cycling rules and on the misuse of accessible parking spots;
• increasing the frequency of transit buses and making them cheaper for users;
• offering more parking for motorcycles;
• offering more free parking options;
• increasing time limits for parking meters;
• offering more long-term parking options; and
• increasing the number of accessible parking spots.
There were also strong opinions around the possibility of a downtown parkade.
Some suggested a parkade should be built to provide an affordable all-day parking option.
Others argued it would only encourage more people to drive and may end up being an eyesore for the downtown area.
As one person commented in the survey: “While I don’t love the idea of a parkade in downtown Whitehorse, I understand the need for it. We live in a very car-dependent city.
“While I don’t see that changing, I think whatever we can do to encourage people to bring less cars into downtown during busy periods needs to happen to balance out building new parking spaces.
“I wonder if a good solution is to better connect Whitehorse neighbourhoods with non-car options.”
Along with the survey, work has been underway since early last year to collect data on downtown parking through initiatives like parking counts.
The final plan is anticipated to come forward in the spring.
See letter, this website.