Interpreting sustainability in a parking structure 

Use of parking-in-lieu funds for underground lot beneath library at heart of debate

More than 20 per cent of the cost of building Whistler’s new library will be attributable to the underground parking lot.

The one-story lot is estimated to cost more than $1.6 million out of a total library budget of $7.5 million.

It’s one of several reasons why Councillor Marianne Wade would not support moving ahead with the current plans to develop the library site at the last council meeting.

"To me (it’s) against our sustainability policy," she said this week.

"We have agreed that we’re not going to encourage more cars coming into the village.

"I don’t support encouraging 45 more cars on that lot."

But Councillor Nick Davies doesn’t agree with that argument and said it doesn’t look to the future of a growing resort.

"You can cloak any issue as either sustainable or not sustainable and in my view this is not a sustainability issue," he said.

"It’s a very practical issue."

"Irrespective of what (sustainability) values we have, the fact of the matter is that vehicles are going to keep coming to this community.

"In my view to say that sustainability demands that we discourage the use of motor vehicles and one way to discourage the use of motor vehicles is to refuse to build parking in our town centre when we have the opportunity to do so, doesn’t look to the future."

Wade however said it would be helpful to know if the municipality in fact needs these stall for its future parking demands before approving a $1.6 million lot.

"No one’s given me a study to say that we actually do need these stalls," she said.

In addition she said the nearby underground parking at the Bear Lodge and the Delta Village Suites is never full.

"All that underground parking there isn’t even used to the max at all," she added.

Under the municipality’s zoning bylaws, there is a requirement to provide parking for buildings in the village.

Specifically the bylaw requires that for every 100 square metres of development, three parking stalls must be added.

The proposed plans for the library show more than 14,000 square feet, which will require roughly 40 parking stalls under the current bylaws.

Wade said it might be wise to re-examine those bylaw requirements.

"If we’re going to be sustainable, why don’t we look at putting the minimum number of cars to encourage transit?" she said.


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