There’s a time and a place for everything in Aurora…except parking

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No doubt a bunch of pearl-clutchers got their granny panties in a knot over a hilarious hack to an unsecured york region construction sign.   When Mr. Scaccia noticed it he posted it to Facebook and it was liked and shared more than all of the Town of Aurora’s social media posts in 2017 combined:

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What’s even more laughable is that there are still a few on council who cling to the belief that they are capable of providing secure internet voting in a region where something as simple as an electronic sign that “should have been padlocked” wasn’t.

Where the statement that appeared on the sign seems applicable to almost anything you throw at it, it seems a particularly accurate summary of the Town of Aurora’s “town-wide parking strategy”.

On September 10th Clr. Mrakas posted on his blog that “Staff are working on a Town wide parking strategy”.

A quick search on the town website only provides 6 items.

On March 31st, 2015 Clr. Thom ‘inquired about the timeline for implementing the parking strategy” :

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A month earlier Mayor Dawe posted that “A Town-wide parking strategy “will be” developed as part of a comprehensive traffic impact review, with input from stakeholders. A project work plan will be brought to Council at a future meeting for adoption.”

Here we are at the end of 2017 and there is no Town-wide parking strategy.  Maybe one will surface in 2018, but little help it will be after council approves a development path for library square.

I attended a presentation by The Planning Partnership on their two concepts which they presented to council this week.   The title slide of their presentation reads “How to take down a parking lot”.  There is no mention of how many parking spaces are lost in either concept or the impact this has on the square itself, the precinct or the promenade.

That’s when I went looking for the parking strategy, and without one began counting spots on the town’s parking map.

Starting by comparing the existing parking in Library Square with the concept plans we see that there are a total of 113 existing parking spots that will be impacted:

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91 existing lot parking: 77 + 6 + 8
22 existing on-street parking: 7 + 15

Concept 1 provides a total of 96 parking spaces:

60

80 lot parking
16 on-street parking

Concept 2a also provides a total of 96 parking spaces:

concep2

80 lot parking
16 on-street parking

Both concepts represent a total deficit of 17 parking spaces.

Concept 2b (alternative) provides a total of 100 parking spaces:

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84 lot parking
16 on-street

This represents a total deficit of 13 parking spaces.

So no concepts put forth have retained the amount of parking in library square, even though the programming area and usage are expected to increase substantially.

Instead, the attitude provided to council by the Planning Partnership is that :

“lack of parking directly beside a venue doesn’t necessarily deter people as overflow parking will end up on the surrounding residential streets.”

This would be true if there were sufficient overflow parking.

But is there?

Let’s zoom out to the whole town parking map and do some more counting:

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The map boasts 700+ parking spots.  I count 710, which on a cursory glance sounds impressive.

Total on-street parking spots (green) on the town’s downtown parking map total 412 (253 North/South and 159 East/West)  I understand all of these are subject to Winter Parking restrictions, which means these spots are not available for 6 months of the year.

Town Operated Parking spots (red) total 298.

If either concept is adopted either 7 or 11 of these spaces are lost.

Of the 132 of these parking spots around town park, 15 of these are permit based.  The remaining 117 are limited to 3 hours.

59 spots are located far away from library square at Wellington & Temperance and service the merchants on Yonge Street.

Tyler Street between Temperance and Yonge shows 9 on-street parking spots and 14 spots in The Parking Lot leased by the town (purple).  Will these 23 spots remain after the United Church development?

6 months of the year there are a grand total of 614 parking spaces:

397 on-street parking spaces : 412 – 6 (library square) – 9 (Tyler)

217 lot parking spaces : 84 (library square) + 117 (town park) + 16 (Victoria & Wellington)

The other 6 months of the year there are only the 217 lot parking spaces : 84 (library square) + 117 (town park) + 16 (Victoria & Wellington)

“People always find a place to park.” is the mantra offered by the Planning Partnership consultants.  Which is only true of the number of people that fit into either the 614 or 217 parking spaces afforded that aren’t stuffed in clown-car style.

Parking is not a “perceived problem”.  It is a real problem as council recognized back in November of last year and agreed a holistic look at Aurora’s parking situation is needed.

Councilors recognized, in their own words that “Frankly, we caused a problem…by trying to fix another problem and it is up to Council to fix the problem.  We just have to be logical and use our common sense.”

Councillor Thompson echoed this:

“We have not dealt with it well.  It started as a localized problem around Town Park, we dealt with that, and it wasn’t much longer than we extended it to Harrison and Connaught because more residents came….There is the real possibility this doesn’t resolve this issue and we are going to have it on the agenda down the road, and I also don’t doubt that we may see those residents who pay for parking spaces around Town Park coming forward as well. We have to find a better global solution.”

That was a year ago.

Still no solution.

But rewind to March 26th, 2014 and the same Councillor is quoted in the paper over the same issue regarding parking concerns in the core.

Councillor Michael Thompson reiterated his view from earlier this month that he did not want to solve one problem, such as revitalization in Aurora’s downtown core, by creating another with parking. More assurances were needed, he said, that the new development would not put any further strain on the area. A strategy was needed, he added, to come up with a solution to the parking problem that would satisfy all stakeholders.

More assurances are needed that the development of library square will not put a further strain on the area.

There are none.

A strategy is needed to come up with a solution to the parking problem at Library Square that will satisfy all stakeholders.

There is none.

Council is poised to solve one problem (redevelopment of library square) by creating another with parking, and are content in doing so, even though this course contravenes the Town’s Offical Plan set back in 2010

What this council, and the previous council should have been doing for these past 2 terms is laid out on page 124:

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The Town needs to become actively involved in identifying opportunities to provide public parking lots, both surface and structured parking facilities to augment the supply of parking.

What involvement has the town taken, and how active have they been?

Has there been an increase or decrease in surface lots and structured parking facilities in the past 7 years?

The only mention I hear at council discussions surrounding parking often result in development applications that unable to provide all of the required on-site parking spaces and pay a cash-in-lieu amount to the town.

The funds raised are to be used by the town solely for the purchase of property for public parking and/or the building of public parking within the boundaries of the Aurora Promenade:

 

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So, how much has been collected since the official plan was adopted?  How much has been waived during the same time?

Purchasing property and building parking was identified as a need over 7 years ago and council has failed to produce any substantial direction to align this goal with their ambitions to redevelop the cultural precinct and revitalization of the downtown core.

At the same time council advances with Concept 1 or 2 at library square, they are absolutely saying “Fuck It Park Wherever” because after all, people don’t need a strategy they always find a place to park.

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