Smithers council has adopted a bylaw change to reduce the parking requirements for retail business along Main Street.
Council held a public hearing and then debated the merits of reducing the requirement from one parking spot needed for every 60 square meters of shop space to one spot for every 100 square meters of space.
Councillor Charlie Northrup opposed the changes saying it will create a lack of parking in the future which will hurt businesses and called for more consultation.
“Just take away half the parking that we currently have today for those buildings and think about how big of a problem we would have. So we had a public hearing tonight but it is my personal belief that the majority of the tenants and the operators in the downtown core don’t even know it is happening.”
However councillor Phil Brinesse and mayor Taylor Bachrach argued that office space is taking over retail space along Main and a higher density of retail shops will benefit business in the area more than a reduction in parking will hurt.
“The denser your community the more, walk-able your community the farther people are willing to walk to get there. One person commented on my Facebook page and it really stuck in my head, they said, ‘I would rather have to walk a ways to a business than not have a business to walk to’.”
Council debated whether additional consultation with shop owners, developers and residents beyond the public hearing and advertising would benefit the decision but in the end voted to move ahead with the changes.
Council hopes that by reducing the cost of supplying parking it will promote retail business development along Main Street after a recent influx of offices popping up.