Special events parking gets a closer look

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Parking during major city events, such as the Kinsmen Rainmaker Rodeo and Rock’n August, might get easier after council agreed on Monday to look at creating more parking.

Director of engineering Todd Wyman said the various parking suggestions brought forward by administration were designed to look at increasing accessible parking and creating other transportation solutions, such as a park and ride, to make events easier to attend.

“We tried to be unrestrained at the start, then rein ourselves in as we went,” Wyman told council about the process used to come up with parking ideas. “We have a number of parking concepts, but we also want to encourage different forms of transportation.”

In addition to the park and ride idea, administration also suggested asking the province and the owners of the Grandin mall parkade for additional spaces in their lots during weekends, when most events take place. However, staff discouraged council from looking at locations such as the St. Albert United Church, green space and parkways and roads for overflow parking.

Wyman said the church was typically unable to provide parking as a result of events and church service, and said the use of roads for overflow parking would cause changes to roads and access to parts of the city, confusing residents. He also said that using the green space for parking would involve extra costs for the city.

“Some of our concerns were around the green space, the liability and refurbishment of it,” said Wyman, adding that it would cost the city $4,000 to start allowing vehicles to park in the green areas, with an additional $2,300 needed to re-seed and repair the ground after each event.

Mayor Nolan Crouse expressed his displeasure at staff’s recommendation to leave the church, city roads and green spaces out of the potential overflow parking plans. He said the city should ensure it could provide adequate parking that would give residents and visitors a good experience in the city.

“My feeling is that the recommendation was an easy way out,” Crouse said. “We want thousands and thousands and thousands of people in our city and we don’t want them to drive away thinking, ‘I just didn’t like coming to St. Albert.’”

Council voted against staff recommendations with a majority by directing them to look further at using the United Church parking lot, city roads and green spaces for overflow parking. Coun. Lorie Garritty voted against the three ideas, with Coun. Len Bracko against the use of city roads and Coun. Carol Watamaniuk against using the parks.

Council agreed to also let administration work out the details of additional parking plans with organizers of some of the city’s largest events and the owners of private lots near the downtown.

Administration said they would compile the costs of a parking report for the 2011 budget discussions in the fall.

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