Projected Costs of New Arthur Street Parking Nearly Doubled
Projected costs for the new Arthur Street parking lot have doubled, prompting City of Blue Mountains (TBM) staff to ask council for permission to secure additional funding for the project.
Council originally approved $410,000 for the project in the 2021 budget, but city staff sought approval of an additional $329,500 from council on Jan. 19.
Including the funds spent on the engineering of the project, the total cost is now estimated at $840,000.
The site for the new parking lot, at 15 and 17 Arthur Street West, was purchased by the city in 2019 for $875,000, and construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2022.
The parking lot was designed to be feature-rich and includes many green and eco-friendly design features.
“This parking lot is not a standard parking lot that you would have outside of an area, behind a building,” said Jamie Witherspoon, president of WT Infrastructure Solutions, the engineering company that designed the parking lot. “It’s a pretty big area, so the planned design is kind of to deal with that, in terms of making it feel like it fits into the area.”
The design includes solar lighting, six pay-for-use bicycle lockers, 26 planted trees and 114 planted shrubs, oil and sediment interceptors, and conduits for possible electric vehicle charging stations in the future.
Conventional bike racks will be available in addition to lockers, and the lot will include 49 parking spaces.
Some of the more expensive features include solar lighting, at $80,000, and bike lockers, at $50,000.
The city also estimates a cost of $90,000 to treat excess soil created by the project, due to new Ontario Regulation 406/19, which came into effect Jan. 1 and requires soil to be excess generated by development meets updated quality standards.
“When we purchased this land, the excess soil regulations were not in place and like what developers in the community are facing, we as a municipality are facing the same thing,” said said general manager Shawn Everitt. .
Several council members were concerned about the request for an additional $329,500.
“We’re talking about $800,000 for a parking lot, and that’s just not that great,” Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon said.
“I’m really, extremely uncomfortable, and I think we may have designed something that looks absolutely spectacular but is way over our budget,” adviser Rob Sampson said.
“We just had a presentation from some local entrepreneurs who are struggling to survive, and to do that and slap that on the tax base, I think now is not the time to do that. I understand that much of this will be funded from reserves, but these reserves were at one time drawn from taxpayers’ wallets.
Council members discussed reducing certain features of the project to save money, including the potential use of gravel instead of asphalt for the terrain.
“I live on a gravel road, we will always have a gravel driveway. I have no problem with the aesthetics of gravel,” councilor Andrea Matrosovs said.
“Yes, the prices have gone up over the last couple of years, and the [excess soil regulation] is certainly something that we weren’t necessarily anticipating… but if we had known those costs at the time, I don’t think we would necessarily have made the same decision.
However, staff argued that gravel would not be the best option.
“Our zoning bylaw has some pretty descriptive and guiding words about how we deal with parking lots, and gravel is not one of the preferred materials we use,” said the director of planning and development services. , Nathan Westendorp. “So part of that is leading by example and living by our own rules.”
Council also inquired about the car park’s revenue-generating potential, given its parking spaces and bike lockers, but staff were unable to give specific figures due to decisions. remaining regarding the pricing structure of the bundle.
“You could see $260,000 in annual revenue, but that could be high and it doesn’t necessarily count toward allowing residents to park there for free,” operations manager Shawn Carey said. “I think there is cost recovery, [but] it all depends on how quickly we get there, and it all depends on the different options around the fee structure and who would be required to pay.
Councilor Paula Hope argued that council should be reluctant to remove too much of the new parking lot.
“We are a tourist region, we are four seasons,” she said. “I think we have to have the cleanliness of the asphalt presentation in a city center facility, so I don’t think we should play with that. It’s marketing, and a good investment in marketing always pays off exponentially. We want to recover efficiently – we need to look like an inviting city presentation.
Council directed staff to prepare an additional report for review, which will include alternative options for parking features, potential cost recovery scenarios, sustainability features and maintenance costs.
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