Vaughan council approves paid on-street parking pilot project in emerging downtown
There needs to be a ‘balancing act,’ Coun. Racco says
Oct. 7, 2021
Vaughan council approved its “first” paid on-street parking pilot on Oct. 5 in the emerging downtown as demand for parking continues to rise in spite of attempts to push people to use public transit as much as possible.
The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) is in Coun. Sandra Racco's ward, and is home to newer condos. This September, this emerging downtown had also witnessed its first major cultural event, the Vaughan Film Festival, and ArtWalk.
Many of these condos are in the vicinity of the VMC subway station and are also built in a way to entice more people to use public transit by limiting the number of visitors’ parking.
During the committee of the whole meeting, Racco told the council that in the last six months especially, amid an influx of more people moving into the emerging downtown, she has received inquiries about parking.
"There's been a number of inquiries and concerns with regards to parking. There isn’t enough parking, especially in temporary parking along with these areas," she said.
The current bylaw governing VMC has no parking and no stopping on any streets within the downtown area.
The bylaw only permits short-term 10-minute passenger pickup and drop-off along Millway Avenue and New Park Place, west of Millway Avenue.
"I thank deputy city manager (Haiqing) Xu for bringing his report forward," Racco added. “I do think that we do need to try this pilot project and see how it works and then we can move from there.”
With Vaughan being the only Ontario municipality outside Toronto with a subway, operating since 2017, the city has great pressure to fill in its ridership.
“As much as we want to see our downtown to be more transit-friendly, and more people taking the transit and so forth, we also recognize the fact that it takes time to change that mentality,” Racco said. “It's time to get people used to that.”
Coun. Marilyn Iafrate, who is in full support of Xu’s recommendation, asked if the demand was emanating for the visitors' parking for people in the buildings or from businesses in the area.
"If it's the first part, then I think that as we move forward and approve more development applications, we really need to be looking if we are providing enough visitors' parking, so curious to hear what the staff has to say."
Christina Bruce, the director of the Policy Planning and Environmental Sustainability department in Vaughan, said the parking being provided is in addition to what’s being offered in the condo buildings being built for both visitors and residents.
In response, Iafrate said the city needs to “re-evaluate” how much public parking these buildings are going to require, “because if they don't provide it, it falls on to us (city).”
“And we can't be using every street as paid parking because now you're changing the whole look and feel of that area.”
For Racco, the situation requires a “balancing act” between accommodating people and to “start encouraging more people to take public transit.”
“I know (city) staff is working on some solutions to that,” she added.
Xu’s recommendation -- now approved -- is to amend existing VMC traffic and parking bylaws to allow for its first-ever paid on-street parking pilot.
The city will also seek to enter into an agreement with the local landowner, Penguin-Calloway (Vaughan) Inc., to implement the pilot project on unassumed streets.
“Since the opening of the TTC subway station in December 2017, Vaughan residents and users of the subway have raised concerns with respect to the lack of public parking and the over-utilization of limited passenger pickup/drop-off (PPUDO) spaces,” Xu wrote in his Oct. 5 report.
Council approved the pilot for a two-years period on three streets, which were dubbed as “mobility hubs” in 2020.
They include New Park Place, Applemill Road and Buttermill Avenue.